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Electronic mailing systems are common in current computing environments for asynchronous communication among users. Traditionally, these messages have consisted of text-only messages. The introduction of the MIME standard allows the attachment of multimedia components for transmission within standard Internet mail messages. Multimedia components may be attached and viewed by MIME-aware mail browsers. Several applications have been developed to create and play back audio and video messages that may be attached to email messages. Most of these applications regard the audio and video components as separate parts of the message. The fact that most of the existing applications are not part of the mail transfer agent makes them awkward to use. This article presents VistaMail, a fully integrated multimedia mailing system, which allows audio and video components to be easily created, sent, and viewed. The audio and video components are treated as part of a single unified message, rather than additions to the text portion. The article discusses the design of the multimedia mail system and some of the issues involved in implementing the system. The system was installed on a cluster of workstations in a LAN environment and some of the experiences are discussed. We believe multimedia mailing systems will be commonplace in future computing environment and an integrated design will be necessary for the acceptance of such a system.

K. Nahrstedt, D. Lin and C. K. Hess, "VistaMail: An Integrated Multimedia Mailing System," in IEEE MultiMedia, vol. 5, no. , pp. 13-23, 1998.
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