Eudora, a pioneering e-mail program named after author Eudora Welty, is rising from a technical grave as an open source program after owner Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) quit selling the product in May.

Eudora routinely got strong reviews from computer magazines and had a loyal user base, but commercially it was overshadowed by software that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) included with new personal computers, International Business Machine's (IBM) Lotus software and Web e-mail programs.

Qualcomm donated Eudora to the open-source community, which means that anybody is free to download and use it without paying for the product. Developers can also access the code, change it and share those changes.

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On August 31 the Mozilla Foundation started distributing a test open-source version of Eudora, which was developed in the late 1980s as one of the first e-mail programs by a student at the University of Illinois.

Qualcomm acquired the software and hired its creator, Steve Dorner. At one point it was used by tens of millions of people.

Eudora is not yet promoting the product on its home page as it does its other titles including its popular Mozilla browser — a rival to Microsoft's Internet Explorer — and Thunderbird, another e-mail program.

The new version of Eudora is being developed under the code name Penelope and is available on the Web at http://wiki.mozilla.org/Penelope.

Mozilla has said it plans to develop both Eudora and Thunderbird.