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Information scientists at RAND have had a continuing interest in the design and appropriate use of electronic mail systems, and this interest has manifested itself in the design of the MH electronic mail system, widely distributed in many releases of the UNIX operating system. Many MH users have exploited its power and adaptability without fully realizing the underlying source of that power. This Note documents the observations and principles underlying the design of MH, design principles that remain relevant and important for interactive information systems, even though many major systems — including recently developed electronic mail or "office information" systems — do not follow them.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.