back to article Finally: Historic Eudora email code goes open source

The source code to the Eudora email client is being released by the Computer History Museum, after five years of discussion with the IP owner, Qualcomm. The Mac software was well loved by early internet adopters and power users, with versions appearing for Palm, Newton and Windows. At one time, the brand was so synonymous with …

  1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
    Boffin

    Keep it going

    Used Eudora from it's beginning until it's demise, even for work. Have used Thunderbird since for personal email, have to use Outlook for work now. Fortunately, there were programs to port all one's old email from Eudora to Thunderbird. Let's just hope Thunderbird lasts...

    1. BillG Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Keep it going

      Same here. I fondly recall Eudora, with all attachments in a separate directory in their original form. Made searching attachments very easy. Was I on Win98 at the time?

      I eventually was forced to move to Outlook, although I can't remember why. I found some software that converted all my Eudora email and folders into an Outlook PST file.

      Strange how one can be nostalgic for old tech.

      1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re BillG: Keep it going

        Yea, I forgot. That separate folder for attachments was definitely one feature Thunderbird should have adopted, but never did.

        1. MrRimmerSIR!

          Re: Re BillG: Keep it going

          Try Zoho email. I have finally succumbed to the new front end and I must say it's pretty good. Has a button on the right to view all attachments in one tab.

      2. adnim Silver badge

        Re: Keep it going

        "Strange how one can be nostalgic for old tech.".

        Although I never used Eudora... I am familiar with the era. Then was the time that code/applications were written for the convenience and benefit of the end user. Some things should never change.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Keep it going

      Can't get quite get used to Thunderbird but my own favourite, Opera Mail is also on life support.

      A BSD Eudora could get some traction. Pity I don't do C otherwise I'd seriously consider donating some time to this. May well donate some cash.

    3. EL Vark
      Pint

      Re: Keep it going

      Absolutely. Adopted Eudora the second graphical browsing became extant (oh, Pine, how we miss thee), switched to Seamonkey suite for those fifteen seconds, and finally TBird (though it's all the gee-whiz-mail, now, so everything is Ferrets, Ferrets, Ferrets, alas). Do I actually miss those uue's? Wellsir... not so much as I do the squeal of the modem. It smelled like... history.

      1. technoise
        Linux

        Re: Keep it going

        El Vark: oh, Pine, how we miss thee

        For those still pining for Pine, there's always Alpine...

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpine_email_client

  2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    "RogueWave's 20-year-old MFC library" There appears to be a typo here. I was programming with MFC (bleh) in the '90s and it held Microsoft copyright, just as it does today. RougeWave was known for its implementation of standard C++ library and set of other related libraries

  3. AJ MacLeod

    460MB of code?!

    No wonder it's such a horrible bloated old mess. I've dealt with many email clients in my day but rarely found one I disliked as much as Eudora (Windows 10 Mail app and virtually all mobile email apps excluded.)

    Sadly there are no email clients I really like, although claws mail has been the best of the bunch for me for many years.

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: 460MB of code?!

      "Sadly there are no email clients I really like, although claws mail has been the best of the bunch for me for many years."

      Have an upvote for that. I've also been using Claws Mail for many years. Thinking about switching though, but I haven't stumbled across anything much better. One day I'll do a proper search, and I'll include venerable terminal based clients like Pine.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 460MB of code?!

      "No wonder it's such a horrible bloated old mess"

      Horrible: Apparently not, read the description.

      Bloated: No - I reckon about 400MB is the port of the framework libraries from the Mac (otherwise they'd need to rewrite different code for each platform).

      Old: Yes it is now.

      Mess: Cf. Horrible.

      1. AJ MacLeod

        Re: 460MB of code?!

        You're welcome to your opinion (I know other people who irrationally love Eudora without ever being able to give one point in its favour other than that they're used to the mess.)

        However... I have actually used Eudora myself and had to deal with it on other people's PCs now and then (within the past year, too), and it IS inevitably a horrible mess. Bloated is subjective and relative perhaps, there are undoubtedly even more bloated clients out there... but regardless, those piles of old libs that aren't otherwise on the system is Eudora induced bloat.

        Old is fine by me - I use loads of software that is ancient and great - but this was pretty horrible decades ago and hasn't improved any with age!

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: 460MB of code?!

          What's changed? Nowadays if you wanted to make a native-looking multiplatform app you'd have the Qt libraries on both systems.

  4. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Email is fundamental to modern life

    (Sadly)

    But there don't seem to be any decent email programs out there any more. Eudora was excellent at what it did and Thunderbird is pretty good, but I get the impression that people would rather write almost anything than a decent email program.

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Email is fundamental to modern life

      I've been using Evolution for some years now. It does everything I need, has remarkably few downsides and, by and large, 'just works'.

      Of course, you'll need Linux with a Gnome or XFCE desktop to use it, but jump right in: the water is fine.

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Pegasus

      I have a customer I support that uses Pegasus. They were Netware users and that was a compelling reason for that choice at the time, as Pegasus integrated with NDS, so hot-desking was a doddle.

      Pegasus is still a reliable alternative to Outlook. The user interface is traditional, there is no need for continual updates, and the scope for catching nasty infections appears to be less.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Pegasus

        The problem with PMail is its developers has been rewriting version 5 for years, and because he wants to do everything from scratch alone, he will never finish it. That's why the UI is "traditional", and there are no updates...

        I won't bet on the code security - it's a niche application which probably never underwent a real VA. But probably nobody thinks to attack it either...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pegasus

          With Pegasus mail + Netware, the security was soooo shitty that when I went to Uni we used to read the staff members personal email just for kicks. No real evil intent, all it required was an understanding of IPX programming and how Netware (& Pegasus) worked.

          To be fair, that was many, many years ago. Security wasn't as well thought out then.

          1. AJ MacLeod

            Re: Pegasus (and Netware)

            I used to do something similar with a bit of basic shell scripting to check my university staff email from the comfort of my Linux desktop without having to suffer logging in to an NT machine in one of the labs and running Pegasus Mail. Nothing against Pegasus, it wasn't bad as far as mail clients went in the late 90s.

            I didn't bother with anyone else's mail though, reading my own was enough of a chore!

    3. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: Email is fundamental to modern life

      I don't know if it runs on anything other than Linux but Sylpheed has been my e-mail client of choice for years.

      Lightweight and easy to configure I just hope that the devs can keep the project going.

    4. oiseau Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Email is fundamental to modern life

      Hello:

      ... don't seem to be any decent email programs out there any more.

      Me thinks you are rather misinformed.

      There's a truly excellent and free (as in free of charge, no money or strings attached) e-mail client that's been out there since December 1989 when it sent it's first email.

      That's almost 30 years ...

      Yes 30 years.

      Find any other software that's been out there that long and it is still supported by it's author.

      See here:

      http://www.pmail.com/index.htm

      http://www.pmail.com/history.htm

      I'm talking about David Harris' Pegasus Mail e-mail client.

      I started using it many years ago when running MS software (and after trying out Eudora), very briefly under DOS and then from W3.11 to XP till I decided to leave MS software behind.

      I now use it with Wine in Linux.

      For a number of reasons explained in his site, it will not be ported to Linux or released as Open Source, but it has never let me down and even though I have looked at many other email clients, this is undoubtedly the one I'll keep using.

      Kudos to David Harris.

      O.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Email is fundamental to modern life

        Whilst I respect David Harris's position regarding Linux, I suspect that if he is still working with Pegasus, he needs to at least update his blog regarding his position. It's dated April 2005.

        Reading it, I don't think he's really understood GPL and LGPL. Just producing a free package that runs on Linux does not necessarily mean that the package needs to be open-sourced or published under GPL, as long as it is written correctly. It is perfectly possible to produce binary only software for free distribution under another license, or even commercially, as long as you do not incorporate any GPL code in your code-base. Most of the required C and C++ libraries required to compile your own packages are published under LGPL, which allows them to be linked in either statically or dynamically to a binary package.

        This fact annoys some of the Open-Source stalwarts who want to convert the whole world to software that is free and open (RMS, I'm looking at you), but the licenses were written the way they were for a reason.

        I appreciate that if he uses an editor from a third party as part of the package, then he would have to get some agreement on that, but Linux repositories are full of editors, which provided they are run as separate processes, can be called quite freely from another program without any licensing issues. Using it as a widget may be a little more problematic, although much of, say, Qt or GTK+ are published under LGPL, so there will be editor widgets in them somewhere.

        The issue of support is only one of degree. At the time of writing the blog, he was doing it for Windows, so doing the same for Linux, once the learning curve has been followed, would not be significantly different, just more.

        But given the date on the blog, and the overall age of the software, I suspect that he is just not interested in porting the product, and if this is the case, when Microsoft starts removing some of the legacy APIs in Windows, the Windows package may be doomed in the log term.

        Opening it up to other developers is the only real way to keep the package alive over the longer term. And if Mercury is actually a functional email server, then a Linux port, even a commercial one, would be really welcome.

  5. Graham Dresch
    Thumb Up

    Error Messages

    one of the Mac versions ( don't know which) had one of the most memorable error dialogs, when it could not connect to the SMTP server it popped up a box containg the useful message:

    Can't do that, don't know why

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Error Messages

      The best I saw, was due to the way a classic MacOS application could be in the foreground, with no open windows. Something like:

      "There is no-one listening to your keystrokes at the moment, you might as well stop typing".

  6. eldakka Silver badge

    > 'Member that innocent, pre-Zuckerberg time?

    I 'member!

    1. iron Silver badge

      https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/2000/1*jRiV_pZ4e0prDnOlhhjoLw.png

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ah yes, I was red hot in pre-Zuckerberg time, oh how I'm ember.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Which pre-Zuckerberg era?

        The MySpace era, the Napster era, or the Windows 9X era?

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Which pre-Zuckerberg era?

          Zuckerberg was born in 1984 so we're talking the C64/Spectrum/MSDOS era (so pre Windows 3.X, or even Windows 1)

  7. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Eudora Euphoria

    I remember the unbounded joy of getting my Palm Pilot to talk my Siemens phone using infra red and then downloading mail using Eudora. I was in a meeting with the High Paid Help a little while after and got a ticking off from one of the directors for playing with my Pilot. I told him I was taking notes and checking emails (both true). He didn't believe the bit about emails so I showed him (he had to shuffle round the table cos of the IR link) and he was amazed. A few weeks after this all the directors turned up with Blackberries, and I like to think that it all started with my Palm Pilot and Eudora

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Eudora Euphoria

      hehe, I used a null-modem and a serial cable so I didn't have to line up the IR-ports!

    2. Jason Hindle

      Re: Eudora Euphoria

      Bluetooth Module for Handspring Visor, and the original Ericsson T68, for me.

  8. Marco Fontani

    Oh, the memories.

    Right before the turn of the century my email was, for all intents and purposes, "on" a floppy disk I carried around (as space on the server was at a premium), which contained the "data" folder for Eudora, which was installed on all available Windows 3.11 for Workgroup computers at the ISP I physically *visited* to read it (I didn't have a home internet connection then).

    It wasn't much after that I ended up moving my old 486 box at the ISP, and "just" started using Linux instead.

    /sniff

    1. Korev Silver badge

      At my university, you got a whole 2MB of disc space and 5MB of email and floppy discs were the usual method of saving files. I soon realised that it was much better to email yourself the files than to put them on the normal file share...

  9. anothercynic Silver badge

    I paid for it...

    Eudora v3 and then v4 were the best things ever (compared to early versions of Outlook *gag*, Internet Exploder Mail *urghhhh*, Notes *argggghhhh*).

    *siiiiigh* The good old days... *dreams on*

    1. Keith Oborn

      Re: I paid for it...

      I ran a 75 desk win 3.11 setup with Eudora as mail client, the data directories all on the fileserver using PC-NFS (remember that?). Worked a charm, although when people started getting laptops the NFS side had to go.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: I paid for it...

      I paid for it too - great program, but with "some issues" (in particular it had some issues with IMAP accounts).

      Someone mentioned supporters not providing a single point in it's favour - so I will. It had a good UI.

      By good, I mean it showed different mailboxes in different windows - instead of this really stupid modern idea that everything has to be in one window where you switch mailboxes from the menu on the left. The Eudora way is just so much easier to work with.

      I only stopped using it when a system upgrade stopped it working.

  10. 45RPM Silver badge

    I miss the days of plain text, unformatted, email. I object to emails which contain emoji and other fripperies. If it doesn’t work in Pine (or Eudora, for that matter), and it takes up a ton of bandwidth, it’s not for me. I remember getting my email at 2400bps - I can’t imagine that would be possible now.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Unhappy

      2400bps!

      I started with 1200/75, (1982) then I was using 300 baud on a PCW8256 to a PAD, then X.25 to the mail server (1986).

      Later 19.2K then 28K in 1990s using POP3 / SMTP. Eudora for a long time. Thunderbird from 2005. Total 12647 when I click on main inbox. Sadly it's been going backwards in GUI terms and usability. Mozilla seem clueless. I've switched to 52ESR for Firefox, it's gone mad.

      14.4K on the Nokia Communicator up till 2004. Or twice as much billing per second for 28.8K. It wasn't the iPhone that made Mobile data possible for the masses, not directly. It was 3G (245K, which iPhone originally didn't have, it used GSM's EDGE) and cheap data packages instead of per second or per Megbyte expensive billing.

      The home landline was local call rate billing till 2006 and still only 33K then.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: 2400bps!

        @Mage - I think that your memory is playing you slightly false since the 8256 didn’t come out until late 1985. In 1983 I was using a Newbrain with CP/M - but I didn’t have a modem, so it was all purely offline. /pedantmode

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never heard of it

    And I was around at the time.

  12. TonyWilk

    Still use Eudora 7

    Works fine on Windows 7 and 10.

    Has the fine feature of not knowing how to run anything attached to emails and doesn't handle HTML.

    Just rolling the sidebar up and down, I have all my emails from Feb 1997 to today.

    1. Packet

      Re: Still use Eudora 7

      Same here!

      I don't want to give it up - for as long as it keeps working.

      Gmail is nice for throw-away stuff, but for other things that I want to keep, this works very well.

      Only issue is the lack of unicode support, but I've learned to live with that

    2. Tim Hines

      Re: Still use Eudora 7

      Still using it here too, and my Gmail accounts are forwarded to it as well. A good archival system that I have control of.

    3. Ernie Mercer

      Re: Still use Eudora 7

      I still use Eudora also (7.1.0.9).

      To view HTML content, enable the "Use Microsoft's viewer" option.

      I don't have seem to have any trouble opening opening attachments or links.

  13. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge
    Coat

    Eudora

    There's a rumour going round that it will come back rebranded as Brexitora, but as its designers can't seem to agree on what kind of borders should separate the different folders and the message content, there may be a long wait for it to be released.

  14. Bad Beaver
    Pint

    Those were the days…

    I fondly remember Eudora. Easy, fast, powerful. I also remember people not giving a damn about proper mail etiquette even back then. People are the worst.

  15. WolfFan Silver badge

    I remember Eudora

    I also remember why I (reluctantly) moved away from it.

    1 Eudora had problems with IMAP. Eudora had _serious_ problems with IMAP. Around 2003 I started to set up new email accounts on IMAP servers; Eudora barfed, repeatedly, with several though not all of them. I could never figure out why some IMAP accounts worked perfectly but others emitted the magic smoke on contact. It was easier to just find a replacement email client.

    2 Eudora had problems with UTF-8. Eudora pretended to be able to handle UTF-8, but really couldn't. This broke some mail. In particular it broke some mail from people who we had to work with and who used UTF-8 because they had to talk to people who didn't use the Latin alphabet and it was too much like work to rig their system to use two different charactersets, so all outgoing mail from them was UTF-8. Eudora would usually handle the posts, but on several occasions it broke spectacularly. There was a plug-in which handled UTF-8; it broke, too. Once again, it was easier to just find a replacement email client.

    3 Qualcomm went off their meds. Instead of doing things like fixing the IMAP and UTF-8 problems, they did things like adding 'peppers' to tell users how 'hot' their posts were. My users started to compete to see how short they could make a post and still get three peppers, without using any profanity. The champ got three peppers with a post 11 words long and containing not even one 'objectionable' or 'inappropriate' word. Suggestive words, yes, but nothing actually profane. This 'feature' was amusing but useless. It was not the only such feature in Eudora, just the most spectacularly idiotic.

    4 Qualcomm went further off their meds. They had the 'free' version, which was limited; they had the 'supported' version, which displayed ads in the lower left corner... and which screamed bloody murder if anything covered up the ad display. At this time there was a useful add-on for Macs which displayed a list of running apps; the default location was right where Eudora had the ads. Users thought that the add-on was a lot more important than Eudora. There was the 'full' version, licensed rentboy fashion, for a year. We noticed that new versions of Eudora tended to show up at 13-15 month intervals, so that the license would have run out and we'd have to pay again. It was cheaper and simpler to get a replacement email client.

    5 Eudora supported encryption... if you were in the US. Export versions didn't have the encryption, and that remained so for some time after the Feds stopped saying that encryption software was a munition of war and requiring an arms dealer license to export it. On occasion our staff had to go outside of the US, with their laptops... and the munition of war installed on those laptops. We didn't feel like applying for an arms dealer license. We also didn't feel like installing the crippled export version. We particularly didn't feel like installing the crippled export version after the Feds (reluctantly) stopped saying that software was the equivalent of cruise missiles. Other people ignored the Feds. It was simpler to just get a replacement email client.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: I remember Eudora

      Yep.

      I had forgotten the peppers.

    2. Tac Eht Xilef

      Re: I remember Eudora

      From memory as well as the UTF-8 issues there were also a bunch of weirdo bugs that affected message content.

      My memory of the details is hazy, but I seem to remember that one of them involved lines starting with "- f" (as in "- firstly, the ...") being turned into blank quoted lines, or something?

  16. onefang Silver badge

    MacPaint was written in APL?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My first dialup internet service provider had Eudora Light email client bundled on the CD

    It was so exhilarating sending and receiving POP3 email for the first time back in the mid 1990s.

    Messing around with Geocities, chatting on mIRC, downloading tons of freeware and shareware on download dot com (before Cnet's tomfoolery later on).

    Later years, defaulted to Outlook Express. Then switched over to web mail. Back to Outlook/Exchange at the workplace.

  18. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Old sourcecode! Such reticence. Much lawyer. Wow!

    I have never seen a company cut its own flesh like that.

    Well, it's a good thing I guess. But there are people who still think that ancient source code has worth?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Old sourcecode! Such reticence. Much lawyer. Wow!

      I guess so, name a $BIGCORP that isn't built on ancient source code.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Old sourcecode! Such reticence. Much lawyer. Wow!

        I can't name a single one that is built on Eudora.

    2. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Old sourcecode! Such reticence. Much lawyer. Wow!

      From the number of downvotes, I'd guess the answer to your question is yes. Age does not mysteriously remove code quality.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      "who still think that ancient source code has worth?"

      One day it will be read like some ancient Egyptian papyrus - and people will try hard to understand it...

  19. Mr Dogshit

    I used it for quite some time but gave up because it couldn't do Cyrillic if I remember correctly.

    I then used The Bat! which was very good, but once you've got MS Office and start using Outlook's calendar there's no going back really.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Sadly, that's the only reason I put up with Outlook and Exchange at [RedactedCo]; despite it's... quirks (and that's being massively polite!) there isn't much out there that can do what that twinset does, with such integration.

      Unless someone here knows something besides IceWarp that can handle integrating voicemail functionality from Call Manager (voicemails in your in-box!) we are kind of stuck with it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I thought Unity could be an IMAP server of its own, to allow any email client to connect to it and get voicemail in their inbox?

  20. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Last of the clients

    I am seriously concerned that within a few years there will no longer be usable email clients available anymore. Certainly nothing that can also handle calendaring. Everybody is so hung up on using web browsers for everything, the talent and resources to develop purpose-built clients are rapidly dwindling. Certainly the Thunderbirrd-next folks are so busy with their yak-shaving that the client is going to become unusable before they even decide what colour they're going to make the menu-bar.

    Browsers are handy tools for many things, email and calendars are not among them.

  21. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Outlook

    I know someone who likes to use Outlook

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Outlook

      We moved our users off Notes, they were all delighted :)

      How IT were for a short while until they forgot and started grumbling about something else -->

  22. arctic_haze Silver badge

    I avoided it from the beginning

    I worked at a US university where allegedly only Eudora was compatible with their mail server for some reason. On day one I found out that Thunderbird (or was it Seamonkey at the time?) worked equally well. The bonus of the Netscape replacement was it's UTF-8 friendliness, unlike Eudora's, which was important as half the lab used in their emails non-Latin languages. So I got hated by the IP admins, loved by some coworkers and generally had fun. But I still cannot understand why some people actually liked that software.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still use it

    After abandoning Demon's Turnpike for Windows I still use Eudora after nearly 15 years. It's lightning fast and besides, I still like to compose mail offline on my main PC. I can back it up instantly or reinstall it with drag and drop. I can just about forgive the UTF-8 charset bug that smashes up some emails but that's become an embarrassment. Worst thing is how many of my recipient's see shonky Times New Roman message bodies although I see eg Verdana. You used to be able to coax it into fetching Gmail once you patched the QCSSL.dll and it could sort of handle Live mail, but configuring secure sockets every day/ week made all that unrewarding. Gradually it is falling apart, bit by bit. I would be over the moon if it could be brought up to date as a modern offline Windows email client with none of the Outlook bloat.

    I really can't decide whether to stump up £1,000 over the rest of my career for Microsoft Office 365.

  24. jmcinatlanta

    Eudora

    For way over 20 years, I have been strongly into Genealogy research on my various lines, and I started at the very beginning with Eudora. I loved this program! It was so easy to use, make folders for each surname, correspond with hundreds of different people, and compose emails. I used it up until Comcast could no longer support it, and sadly I could never find another program like it on the market. I signed up with Outlook and didn't care for it, and I now am using Comcast's email, but don't like it. It's cumbersome and hangs up easily.

    I have never figured out (with such a big following) why the program was never updated and produced for those who would have stayed with it. You don't have to discontinue one program to move on to another.

    I would love to find a similar program such as Eudora that I could install onto my computer, that was not an internet based one. If there is one and I have just missed it, I would love to hear!

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