Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Eric Allman

Eric Allman (born 1959) is a computer programmer. The openly gay programmer developed sendmail and its precursor delivermail in the late 1970s and early 1980s at UC Berkeley. If anyone can be called the father of modern Internet e-mail, it has to be Allman.

Born in El Cerrito, California, Allman knew from an early age that he wanted to deal with computing later in life, hacking into his high school's mainframe and later using the UC Berkeley computing center for his computing needs.

In 1973, he entered UC Berkeley, just as the UNIX operating system began to become popular in academic circles. As the UNIX source code was free, the local hackers quickly made many extensions to the AT&T code.

One such extension was delivermail, which in 1981 turned into sendmail. As an MTA, it was designed to deliver e-mail over the still relatively small (as compared to today's Internet) ARPANET, that consisted of many smaller networks with vastly differently formats for e-mail headers.

Sendmail soon became an important part of BSD, the Berkeley Software Distribution and continues to be the most widely used MTA on UNIX and Linux systems today, despite its somewhat complex configuration syntax and frequent abuse by Internet telemarketing firms.

In 1998, Allman founded Sendmail, Inc., headquartered in Emeryville, California, to do closed source work on improving sendmail.

Quotes:

"There is some sort of perverse pleasure in knowing that it's basically impossible to send a piece of hate mail through the Internet without its being touched by a gay program. That's kind of funny."

External links: