Oracularity 582-08

The Usenet Oracle has pondered your question deeply. 
Your question was:

>     So Orrie old chum, what this "Bcc" business in the headers of my
> document.

And in response, thus spake the Usenet Oracle:

} "Bcc" stands for Blind Carbon Copy.  But that doesn't tell you much.
} Sit back and learn a bit of Net lore.
} Back in the ancient, cloudy, misty days of the ancestors of the
} Internet, back around 1979, an old, worn-out blues musician used to
} warm his tired bones in the sun on Sproul Plaza at the University of
} California, Berkeley, from time to time putting his old harmonica to
} his mouth and playing a riff or two, and now and then saying "God
} bless you" to some kind soul who had thrown a coin in his battered old
} derby.
} Come December it grew cold, even in California, and the venerable
} blues man began looking for a building he could doze in without being
} thrown out.  Eventually he discovered the Computer Center, an ideal
} place because in those glorious days the only people using it were
} True Hackers who worked at night and slept during the day, mostly face
} down alongside their keyboards.  Once our protagonist had rescued an
} old Cal sweatshirt from a trash can and begun wearing it while he
} napped at a terminal station, no one questioned his right to be there.
} This old blues man, of course, was none other than Blind Carbon Copy.
} He had picked up the majority of his nickname back in the '20s, when
} as a boy he would sneak into the honky-tonks and listen to the sweet
} Delta blues he heard there, then sneak back home and practice what
} he'd learned.  One night when a young Al Jolson was performing, Bcc
} was so caught up in the music that he forgot to wait until he was home
} to practice, and when Al and the boys came out the stage door they
} found a young boy in the alley singing his heart out in a perfect
} imitation of the Master.  "Al, that boy just a carbon copy of you,"
} the bass man said, and the name stuck.
} Now Blind Carbon Copy wasn't blind, but did you ever hear of a Delta
} blues man who wasn't nicknamed Blind something?
} --Well, after a few days of napping in the Berkeley lab Bcc got
} curious about what all those red-eyed young-'uns was doing there, and
} he started moving from monitor to monitor and reading over people's
} shoulders.  He couldn't make much out of FORTRAN or C code, but every
} now and then he'd come upon someone reading his e-mail, and he'd read
} the message, and make a song out of it if he could, walking off into
} the center of the room and softly accompanying himself on his blues
} harp:
}     I've got a na-aasty bug, an' I'm feelin' mighty blue
}     <WaaAHHH-yaaa-yaaa, ya-aaa-aaa-WAAAA-aah-ahh>
}     I said mah code's got a big bug, makes me feel so goddam blue
}     <WaaAHHH-yaaa-yaaa, ya-aaa-aaa-WAAAA-aah-ahh>
}     Mah core's gone an' dumped me, said mah programmin' days was
}     through! <Bumpety-bumpety-bumpety bump bump BUMP.>
} His lyrics eventually worked their way into the bleary consciousnesses
} of the Berkeley hackers.  Dumbfounded at first, they quickly warmed to
} the idea of improvisational blues e-mail, and pretty soon got in the
} habit of calling Blind Carbon Copy over--when he was awake, of
} course--when they had received a particularly promising message that
} they wanted him to render.  Some of the more musical of the group got
} Bcc to teach them how to sing the blues too, and began doing their own
} riffs when Bcc was asleep or away.
} Well, the Berkeley group split up, as all things will; Bcc went back
} to Louisiana to live with his daughter's family, the hackers
} graduated, or got jobs, or became bums.  But whenever one of them sent
} e-mail to someone working with one of the old crowd, they'd attach a
} header reading, let's say, "Blind Carbon Copy: William Joy", to
} indicate that the recipient should call Bill Joy over to do the blues
} on the message.
} Before long the header was shortened to the standard "Bcc" in Berkeley
} sendmail.  But the tradition lives on.  Mostly nowadays the Bcc
} heading is just a ritual gesture, and few are the companies and
} schools where people know enough Net history to call for one of their
} colleagues to come sing their e-mail when they have a Bcc line.  But
} now you know, and you know what to do, and remember, above all, that
} even if you get funny looks when someone's reading over your shoulder
} and laying down that e-mail wail, there's an old Delta blues man,
} lying in a bed in an old-folks home in Baton Rouge now, who hears and
} is blessed every time you sing them.
} Blind Carbon Copy--part of your Internet heritage!
} (This Oracularity sponsored by the Internet Cultural Task Force, the
} Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Louisiana Office of
} Tourism.)