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X.400 is a widely-used ITU-T standard protocol for electronic messaging in a computer network. It defines a set of rules and procedures for the exchange of messages between different systems, including email and other forms of electronic communication.

Originally developed in the 1980s, X.400 was designed to provide a standardized method for interconnecting different email systems, allowing users on different networks to send and receive messages to each other. It provides a hierarchical addressing scheme and a common set of message handling services, such as message transfer, routing, and delivery.

Some key features and components of X.400 include:

  1. Addressing: X.400 uses a hierarchical addressing scheme that uniquely identifies individual mailboxes within a network. The addresses are structured in a format similar to directory paths, with components indicating the organization, country, and individual mailbox.
  2. Message Transfer Agents (MTAs): X.400 relies on a network of MTAs to handle the transfer, routing, and delivery of messages. Each MTA is responsible for forwarding messages to the appropriate destination based on the address information.
  3. Message Handling System (MHS): The MHS is a key component of X.400 that provides the necessary functions for message reception, storage, and delivery. It includes features like message queuing, prioritization, and error handling.
  4. Message Format: X.400 defines a standardized message format called the “Message Handling System Interchange Format” (MHS/MIME) that allows for the exchange of various types of content, including text, attachments, and multimedia.

While X.400 was widely adopted in the past, its usage has declined in recent years with the rise of the Internet and the dominance of the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) for email communication. However, X.400 remains in use in some specialized applications and certain industries that require the use of its advanced features and capabilities.

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