MIME stands for ``Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions'' and currently is a proposal for a communication encoding standard (RFC 1341). Basically, a MIME header specifies the type of document (text, audio, video, etc.) and the code used to encode the document (ISO 8859, US-ASCII, etc.):
content-type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1Programs with MIME capabilities read the MIME header and either translate the document into a format suitable for the machine it is to be used on, or call external applications to do the translation.
MIME is now supported by most of the news reader, e-mail communication, or World Wide Web viewing applications.