LISTSERV is the first electronic mailing list software application. [ [ Unedited archives of LSTSRV-L, LISTSERV site administrators' forum, July 1986-] ]

Prior to LISTSERV, email lists were managed manually. To join or leave a list, people would write to the human list administrator and ask to be added or removed, a process that only got more time-consuming as discussion lists grew in popularity.

LISTSERV was freeware from 1986 through 1993 and is now a commercial product developed by L-Soft, a company founded by LISTSERV author Eric Thomas in 1994. [ [ CV of Eric Thomas] ] A free version limited to 10 lists of up to 500 subscribers each can be downloaded from the company’s web site.


In 1986, Eric Thomas invented the concept of an automated mailing list manager; that year, while a student in Paris, he developed the software now known as LISTSERV. [ [ History of the Internet - 1986] ] The early software features developed by Thomas included the capability to send commands to LISTSERV to join or leave a list without the need for human administration, as well as the concept of a list owner (other than the system administrator) who could add or remove subscribers, edit templates for welcome messages and other system messages. Among other innovations, LISTSERV introduced double opt-in in 1993 and the first spam filter in 1995. [ [ LISTSERV product history timeline] ]


LISTSERV is a registered trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office [ [ LISTSERV Trademark Registration at USPTO] ] and the Swedish Patent and Registration Office, PRV. [ [ PRV, the Swedish Patent and Registration Office ] ] As such, using the word "listserv" to describe a different product or as a generic term for any email-based mailing list of that kind is a trademark misuse. The standard generic terms are "electronic mailing list" or "email list" for the list itself, and "email list manager" or "email list software" for the software product that manages the list. [ [ LISTSERV trademark information] ]


The integrated F-Secure Anti-Virus system in LISTSERV software scans every message and attachment posted to a mailing list for viruses. LISTSERV is the first and so far the only email list software providing such built-in virus protection. If a virus is detected, the message is automatically rejected. [ [ Costello Sam. "E-mail lists get virus protection", ", Sci-Tech", October 30, 2001] ]

Through version 15.0, individual user passwords were stored cleartext and available to users who are listed as Site Managers or "Postmasters" in the application configuration. Passwords are encrypted since version 15.5.


LISTSERV is available in several licensing options: [ LISTSERV Free Edition] for non-commercial hobby use, LISTSERV Lite for smaller workloads, LISTSERV Classic the standard, full-featured version, LISTSERV HPO (High Performance Option) and LISTSERV Maestro (for customized and targeted email publishing and reporting).

Supported operating systems

LISTSERV is currently available for and supported on Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, AIX, Mac OS X, OpenVMS, HP-UX, Tru64, VM and Microsoft Windows (XP, 2000, and 2003).

Historic reference — BITNIC LISTSERV, 1984-1986

A program that allowed mailing lists to be implemented on IBM VM mainframes was developed by Ira Fuchs, Daniel Oberst, and Ricky Hernandez in 1984.This mailing list service was known at LISTSERV@BITNIC and quickly became a key service on the BITNET network. It provided functionality similar to a Sendmail alias and was managed manually (sendmail was not available on IBM mainframes at the time). After the release of Thomas’ LISTSERV in 1986, LISTSERV@BITNIC was enhanced to provide automatic list management, but was abandoned a few months later when BITNIC installed Thomas’ LISTSERV. [ [ BITNET Network Information Center announcement by Judith Molka on the NODMGT-L List, January 7, 1987] ]

Contemporaneously, North Carolina State University had been given a copy of the BITNIC code to run on their mainframe (LISTSERV@NCSUVM). This was actually a modified version of the code with improvements from Alan B. Clegg. NCSU switched to Thomas’ LISTSERV in 1986.Other than their name, BITNIC’s and Thomas’ products are unrelated. Neither product is based on the other product’s code. [ [ History of LISTSERV@BITNIC and LISTSERV email list management software, 1985-1995] ]

See also

* Majordomo (software),
* Massively distributed collaboration
* GNU Mailman


External links

* [ LISTSERV product information on L-Soft's website]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • LISTSERV — Desarrollador Eric Thomas Información general Género listas de correo electrónico …   Wikipedia Español

  • LISTSERV — est le logiciel original serveur permettant de gérer les listes de diffusion, les newsletters, les forums et les groupes de discussion utilisant le courrier électronique. Eric Thomas[1]développa LISTSERV[2] à l’École Centrale de Paris en 1986[3] …   Wikipédia en Français

  • LISTSERV — ist ein Anwendungsprogramm für die Verwaltung von E Mail Mailinglisten, die ursprünglich Mitte der 1980er Jahre für das US amerikanische Computernetz BITNET entwickelt wurde. LISTSERV wurde 1986 von Eric Thomas entwickelt und war die erste… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Listserv — ist ein Anwendungsprogramm für die Verwaltung von E Mail Mailinglisten, die ursprünglich Mitte der 1980er Jahre für das US amerikanische Computernetz BITNET entwickelt wurde. LISTSERV wurde 1986 von Eric Thomas entwickelt und war die erste… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Listserv — Listserv,   List Server …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Listserv — /list serrv /, n. a specific list server: one of the most common list servers on the Internet. * * * listserv UK [ˈlɪstˌsɜː(r)v] US [ˈlɪstˌsɜrv] [singular listserv plural listservs] trademark …   Useful english dictionary

  • listserv — UK [ˈlɪstˌsɜː(r)v] / US [ˈlɪstˌsɜrv] Word forms listserv : singular listserv plural listservs trademark computing a piece of software that automatically sends a copy of every email received to all members of a group …   English dictionary

  • Listserv — ● np. ►INTERNET Utilitaire gérant automatiquement les listes de diffusion sur l Internet. Pour s inscrire, il suffit alors d envoyer un message contenant des commandes normalisées à l automate, celui ci fera le reste. Il en existe beaucoup d… …   Dictionnaire d'informatique francophone

  • Listserv — Verbreitetes Programm zur automatisierten Verwaltung von Mailing Lists. Listserv kümmert sich auch automatisch um Neu Abonnements und Kündigungen von Listen. Mailinglist …   Online-Wörterbuch Deutsch-Lexikon

  • listserv — /ˈlɪstsɜv/ (say listserv) noun Computers a mailing list server which automatically sends emails addressed to a mailing list to all addresses on the list, operating in a similar way to a newsgroup but with the messages being accessible only to… …   Australian English dictionary