Site home page
Get alerts when Linktionary is updated
Book updates and addendums
Get info about the Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunicatons, 3rd edition (2001)
Download the electronic version of the Encyclopedia of Networking, 2nd edition (1996). It's free!
Contribute to this site
Electronic licensing info
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension)
Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.
MIME is an IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standard originally defined in 1992 for sending a variety of different types of information (data types) via Internet electronic mail. Basically, MIME is what lets you attach just about any type of file to an Internet mail message. Previously, electronic mail messages could only handle text. What MIME does is provide standard ways to encode data types for transmission in electronic mail. MIME supports binary files, non-US-ASCII character sets, images, sound, video, and documents that are stored in special formats (such as compressed files). MIME also supports special fonts in the message itself.
A typical e-mail message consists of a header that includes the fields Data, To, From, and Subject, followed by the text of the message. RFC 1049 (A Content-Type Header Field for Internet Messages, March 1988) added a header that could describe a particular format for the message content, although the entire content had to be the same.
MIME's contributions are multipart attachments for messages and a way for users to choose the type of encoding they want to use. Each part of the message can hold a different data type. One way to understand MIME messages is to envision two or more separate e-mail messages, each with different data types, that are bundled together into a single message and going to the same destination. Each part of the message is called a body part and can contain text, graphics, audio, or video.
MIME adds information to the header of an e-mail message, such as the following:
Here is a listing of the primary RFCs that describe MIME.
Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.