MIME & Me (nsb)

MIME stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. It is the official Internet standard that defines the way that multimedia objects are labelled, compounded, and encoded for transport over the Internet. Ned Freed and I led the specification of MIME.

At that time, I was a researcher and developer of multimedia email tools, in addition to being one of the two primary authors of MIME, and because of this I am able to claim to have sent out the first real (i.e. interesting) MIME message. At the time, I was working for Bellcore in New Jersey, where I sang with the Bellcore chorus (the "Dial Tones") and in an all-Bellcore barbershop quartet (the "Telephone Chords"). On March 11, 1992, I sent out this message, more or less:

Message-Id: <Edjbh9O0M2YtQL5uct@thumper.bellcore.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1992 16:27:37 -0500 (EST)
From: Nathaniel Borenstein <nsb>
Mime-Version: 1.0
To: ietf-822@...., info-metamail@....
Subject: Barbershop MIME

Those of you not running MIME-compliant mail readers won't get a lot out
of this, nor will those without ftp access to the Internet, but for the
lucky few....

Here are the infamous Telephone Chords, the world's premier (=only) 
all-Bellcore barbershop quartet, singing about MIME.  Note that because
the "message/external-body" MIME construct is used, this whole message
is only about 3000 bytes -- at least, until you start reading it.  :-)
(To the tune of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart")

Let me send you email if you have the time
Let me sing you email now that we have MIME
You have lots of bandwidth, I have lots of bits
Let's use MIME for email, plain text is the pits!


No audio? Try clicking here.

The Telephone Chords, 1992

John Lamb, bass                                  Michael Littman, lead
                                 David Braun, baritone                        NSB, tenor

Then, twenty years later almost to the day, the Telephone Chords were reunited, as part of the celebration of MIME's 20th anniversary. ACS (the successor company to Bellcore and Telcordia) hosted the celebration, and we sang that same ditty again; here we are twenty years later, older but higher-res:


Note that if you consider the presence or absence of a tie or jacket as two binary digits, we represent all four possible values of the resulting 2-bit number. This was not an accident.

Finally, thanks to the march of progress, we have audio and video of our reunion: