Re: Email servers - @Peter Gathercole
Yes, you're right. I was indulging in rose-tinted glasses. Life was much more simple then (as long as you didn't have to configure sendmail rules by hand), and I really miss those days.
Most users at that time would probably be using their modem-attached microcomputers as termials to either their work place or a bulletin board.
User data on the multi-user systems was also backed up normally (users tend to get a bit irate if a system failure wiped out their files, including their mail), so control of their data was never totally in their hands. Even if they deleted the mails, they may exist on backup tapes, and most users had absolutely no idea about how long the backup regime would keep copies of their files.
At one point I was a system owner as defined by the original UK Data Protection act. I was petrified of a request to amend all copies of some incorrect data, because I had no idea how to edit the backup tapes that I kept for significant amounts of time. I was told that there was provision for this in the act, but nobody told me what it was!