One day in 1983 I got the flu and had to stay home from work for three days with nothing to do. I used that time to write MHE. The fundamental idea behind MHE was that it was a “puppeteer” driving the MH programs underneath it. MH had a model that the editor was supposed to run as a sub-process of the mailer, which seemed to me at the time to be the tail wagging the dog. So I turned it around and made the editor drive the MH programs. I made sure that the UCI people (who were maintaining MH at the time) took in my changes and made them stick.
Today, I still use my own version of MHE because I don’t at all like the way that GNU MH-E works and I’ve never gotten to be good enough at hacking Emacs Lisp to make GNU MH-E do what I want. The Gosling-emacs version of MHE and the GNU Emacs version of MH-E have almost nothing in common except similar names. They work differently, have different conceptual models, and have different key bindings61.
Brian Reid, June 1994
After reading this article, I questioned Brian about his version of MHE, and received some great ideas for improving MH-E such as a dired-like method of selecting folders; and removing the prompting when sending mail, filling in the blanks in the draft buffer instead. I passed them on to Stephen Gildea, the current maintainer, and he was excited about the ideas as well. Perhaps one day, MH-E will again resemble MHE (draft form editing was introduced in version 7.4).