Date:  Oct 20, 2012

The PacNet system engineering team – photo taken in 1997.

1997 engineering00


1.  in 1996, when I first joined Pacific Internet in June 4.  The guy who is on most right – Jin Siong, just have his baby boy born.  I visited him and his wife and the baby boy on my first day of work.  Jin Siong is the only one still in Pacific Internet (now brand as PacNet) after so many years. 

2.  Lawrence on the Right looks after our WWW, DNS.

3.  Soo Khim (second from the left) look after our Web.

4.  That’s me, third from the left, together with Ivan (second right) we look after the lovely Email Servers.  Also IRC Servers.

5.  JC (middle) joined almost the same day as me, looks after Radius.

6.  Of course, our love manager – Stacy.

1996 engineering

Of course, you have the rest of the Engineering team from Network and the business team.

Christopher, Lim Fung, Stacy, See Tiang, Ivan, Elaine, Kok Hoou, me, Michelle, Hock Koon, Natalia and Leon.  Just had our lunch at NUS.


1.  What a sh*t job.  The email servers is down again. Kena Spam.  My pager is on 24 hours, and I can hardly had more than 4-5 hours sleep every day.  My job is to maintain the email servers.  [The year is 1996]

2.  I remember, when we started, all the emails resides in a software developed from US, called POST.OFFICE (Post Dot Office).  It cost about US$1,000.

3.  By the time, I joined, we have 20,000 email users.  

4.  Post.Office is a very nice software comes with a lot of good features.  It stores every users as a DIRECTORY in the MAILBOX directory.

5.  The marketing team is doing such a good job, and we reach 32,768 users.  And Post.Office stop adding new users.  Why?  That is precisely exactly the file limit or the number of directory that a unix system allow to be created within a single directory.

6.  Luckily, we have the genius Ivan thought of soft linking the directory to several others directory.  Soon, we also hit performance issues.

7.  We flew to Santa Barbara to see Software.Com. the maker of Post.Office.  

8.  Oh dear, Ivan look, the engine is on fire.  One of the engine on fire on our propelled plane to Santa Barbara.  My first time on those propeller propelled plane.

9.  Oh great!  The largest installation for Post.Office is about 1,000 users, a company in US.  Software.Com did not know that we have more than 40K users running on their Post.Office software.  There mouth were like open for 10-20 minutes without closing.  We soon share with them about the unix directory limit.  Again, they were amazed.  We discussed about the performance issues, the email filtering issues.

10.  We presented our IDEA of 3 layers IMAP/POP3 with SMTP systems.  Post.Office needs time to chew on it and develop on it.

11.  So, the team came back, and we start writing C programs to develop the POP3 Proxy server.  What does it do?

12.  Do you remember …. etc.

13.  Well, you did not see it on right?  There is only one single email domain from right.

14.  We wrote the codes for it, when the POP3 servers contacted it is communicating with a POP3 Proxy server which looks up a user database, and decided which mailbox server it needs to fetch the mails from.  So, to the outside world, there is only one single email domain. and to the inside world, we have multiple mailbox server running where all the emails of the users reside.  

15.  We all are very proud of what we have done.

16.  We also put a layer of SMTP servers whose job is to receive the email sent from the users.  That is why, the SENDING BAR always very fast sending out emails.  Then, all these emails sent to a central processing SMTP servers, and these handwork SMTP servers start look up DNS, and figure out how to sent those emails out to the Internet.

17.  The impression is to give the uses speedy fast sending emails.  Old ways of doing it, the outlook or Internet Mail always wait for the SMTP to contact the destination SMTP by look up DNS.  That always takes a while.

18.  We designed the email to have a layer of anti-spam layer.  To kick out spam mails.

19.  After writing those software and run it on production servers.  Our job become easy.  No longer we need to wake up in the mid-night to do rescue when a spam happen.  So, our job become easy.  

20.  And we did all the above in few nights.  Why we did it?  Because our is failing us big time, when running on a single server.  So, one fine day, the email systems broke down.  So, we spent the next 3 sleepless night, writing software, migrating users.

21.  And we all our very proud of what we have done.

22.  Soon, the users reached 100K users.  Of course, by then, we migrated our emails to Software.Com’s latest software, the 3 layers IMAP/POP3 with SMTP systems.  Sounds familiar?  And we went on to reach 150K users.  We did put up a good fight against SingNet.  


During the 16 years, Pacific Internet sold to an Indonesia guy, later sold to ANC, and become PacNet.  And now PacNet just announce that they will close down the email domain by next Feb permanently.  

Just look around, how many companies are still using as their email address to promote their goods… name cards needed to be changed, advertising material needed to be change.

Soon RIP 






  1. And I removed the whole from the platform before I left PI. 🙂

    – Tan Shao Yi

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