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Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions

MIME is used to specify how mail attachments can be encoded and transferred within mail messages. It is also used for HTTP. There are many RFC documents pertaining to MIME; the initial set to start with are 2045, 2046, 2047, 2387. MIME evolved out of the desire to pass along messages written in international character sets using rich text formatting containing images, audio, and video.

The original Internet mail format, RFC 822, only allowed for simple 7-bit ASCII plain text white space formatted content. IBM's servers used an 8-bit EBCDIC character sets. So the passing of mail between the early Internet, BITNET, and other networks often required translation gateways that mapped ASCII into one of many EBCDIC code pages, and back again, not always successfully. Thus MIME is needed to resolve message format and transfer issues.


  • RFC 2045 Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) Part One: Format of Internet Message Bodies
  • RFC 2046 Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) Part Two: Media Types
  • RFC 2047 Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) Part Three: Message Header Extensions for Non-ASCII Text
  • RFC 2048 Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) Part Four: Registration Procedures
  • RFC 2049 Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) Part Five: Conformance Criteria and Examples
  • RFC 2387 The MIME Multipart/Related Content-type
  • RFC 5322 Internet Message Format (previously RFC 2822, 822)