The Inventor of Email
Innovation any time, any place, anybody
Bookmark and Share

Revisionism of History by Tom Van Vleck
After the News of Ayyadurai's Invention of Email



Introduction

Here are three blatant examples of revisionism of history following VA Shiva Ayyadurai's news of the invention of email. For years, Tom Van Vleck was sarcastic about Tomlinson’s “invention of email” on his own History of Electronic Email web site. Van Vleck has made inoperable links to MA Padlipsky, an internet pioneer, who wrote nearly 20 RFCS. Padlipsky exposed why Tomlinson was not the inventor of “email”. After Dr. Ayyadurai's news, it appears Van Vleck chose to promote Tomlinson and BBN, versus recognize the facts of Ayyadurai's invention of email. Below, the details of this revisionism are shared. These revisions occurred a few weeks before Tomlinson was given an "award" as the “inventor of email”.


In the paragraphs below, "BEFORE" refers to the time before of Dr. Ayyadurai's news of his invention of email came out in public. The time "AFTER" refers to the time after his news became public.


HISTORICAL REVISIONISM #1 – REMOVAL OF PADLIPSKY’S LINK


The link to Padlipsky is no longer working. Padlipsky was a critic of Tomlinson. Padlipsky shared facts that Tomlinson did not invent email (here is the link to Padlipsky's URL, which was fortunately found somewhere else on the internet.)


The Motivation for Revision

Padlipsky's comments are damaging to Tomlinson, as Padlipsky clearly recalls Tomlinson did not “invent email”. Van Vleck has ensured that the link to Padlipsky's article (staring in March 2012, following news of Ayyadurai's invention of email) generates a 404 error not allowing any future readers to see Padlipsky's comments, which clearly expose Tomlinson.


The Evidence (BEFORE AND AFTER)


BEFORE AFTER

Note: The link to Padlipsky's article was working before the controversy, click on it below.


Here is the Original Text

"Multics was connected to the ARPANet in October 1971, and a method of sending mail to other machines on the net and receiving mail from them was done in early 1972 by the MAC networking group, led by Mike Padlipsky; see his ‘And They Argued All Night...’ and RFC 491. Because the ‘@’ was a line kill character in Multics, sending Multics mail to other hosts used the control argument -at instead."

Note: The Padlipsky link is no longer working. Screen shot taken as on May 29, 2012


Here is the Revised Text

"Multics was connected to the ARPANet in October 1971, and a method of Sending mail to other machines on the net and receiving mail from them was done in early 1972 by the MAC networking group, led by Mike Padlipsky; see his ‘And They Argued All Night...’, and RFC 491. Because the '@' was a line kill character in Multics, sending Multics mail to other hosts used the control argument '-at' instead."


HISTORICAL REVISIONISM #2 – REMOVAL OF SARCASM AGAINST TOMLINSON


The Motivation for Revision

The announcement of Dr. Ayyadurai's invention of email appears to have incited those who were previously not collaborating and vying for their place in history to organize and claim Tomlinson as the "inventor of email" in order to ensure that Dr. Ayyadurai, an outsider was not acknowledged. It appears that Dr. Ayyadurai's announcement would have discredited Tomlinson and also exposed the conflated claims on "email" made by a coterie (including Van Vleck and others) from MIT, BBN, RAND, etc.


The Evidence

The Evidence (BEFORE AND AFTER)


BEFORE AFTER

Note: The sarcasm against Tomlinson “inventing” email is clear. See the 2nd paragraph on Tomlinson as “inventing email”. Van Vleck only gives him credit for the use of the “@” sign.


 

 

Here is the Original Text

“Multics was connected to the ARPANet in October 1971, and a method of sending mail to other machines on the net and receiving mail from them was done in early 1972 by the MAC networking group, led by Mike Padlipsky; see his 'And They Argued All Night...', and RFC 491. Because the '@' was a line kill character in Multics, sending Multics mail to other hosts used the control argument '-at' instead.


In March, 1972, Ray Tomlinson of BBN wrote the simple mail programs SNDMSG and READMAIL, according to Larry Roberts' Internet Chronology. It doesn't Say what machine these programs ran on: probably TENEX. Ray is famous for ‘inventing electronic mail.’ In fact, electronic mail had existed for years when he wrote his programs, which became widely distributed among ARPANet users. One of Ray's contributions was to choose the ‘@’ sign to separate username from host name in mail addresses.






























 

RFC 385 ‘Comments on the File Transfer Protocol,’ by Abhay Bhushan of the MAC networking group, dated Aug-18-1972, introduced the MLFL and MAIL commands to FTP, as a way of sending mail. Several further RFCs discussed variations on the idea of sending mail inside FTP. A meeting in Feb 1973 agreed on the use of the '@' sign in the proposed FTP TO command so that address had the format user@host, as documented in RFC 469. RFC 498 mentions that the TENEX SNDMSG command could send mail to users at remote hosts using the user@host syntax without requiring an FTP login; I guess this was Ray Tomlinson's code. In November 1975, JonPostel wrote RFC 706, ‘On the junk mail problem,‘ suggesting that the problem of junk electronic mail had been at least contemplated, if not experienced. RFC 772, ‘Mail Transfer Protocol,’ by S. Sluizer and J. Postel, dated Sep-01-1980, inaugurated a series of RFCs which described the features of the Internet mail protocols, leading eventually to the SMTP protocol used for mail today.”

Note: The entire paragraph of sarcasm against Tomlinson is removed. In addition a new paragraph is added stating that Tomlinson invented “network” email. A link is provided to Tomlinson's web site saying that he was the first to send "email". Note the term email did not even exist prior to 1978.


Here is the Revised Text

“Multics was connected to the ARPANet in October 1971, and a method of sending mail to other machines on the net and receiving mail from them was done in early 1972 by the MAC networking group, led by Mike Padlipsky; see his ‘And They Argued All Night...”, and RFC 491. Because the '@' was a line kill character in Multics, sending mail from Multics to other hosts used the control argument '-at' instead.









<PARAGRAPH REMOVED WITH SARCASM AGAINST TOMLINSON>









In late 1971, Ray Tomlinson of BBN modified the TENEX system's mail Program SNDMSG to send messages over the ARPANet to users on other TENEX systems, according to Ray's page, ‘The First Network Email.’ This feature was included in the next release of TENEX to user sites in early 1972. Many ARPANet Sites used TENEX, and users of these sites could send mail to each other beginning in 1972. Besides sending the first network email, Tomlinson chose the '@' sign to separate user name from host name in mail addresses.


Mail software that could send messages between ARPANet hosts with different operating systems was developed step by step, by many researchers at many sites, in the following years. By 1973, e-mail constituted 75 percent of ARPANet traffic, according to Wikipedia.


At first, inter-computer mail was seen as a matter of sending file contents, as CTSS and TENEX had done. RFC 385 ‘Comments on the File Transfer Protocol,’ by Abhay Bhushan of the MAC networking group, dated Aug-18-1972, proposed adding MLFL and MAIL commands to FTP, as a way of sending mail. Several further RFCs discussed variations on the idea of sending mail inside the File Transfer Protocol (FTP). A meeting in Feb 1973 agreed on the use of the ‘@’ sign in the proposed FTP TO command so that address had the format user@host, as documented in RFC 469.


As more systems connected to the ARPANet, with different ideas of what ‘mail’ was, treating mail as transferring files became more and more of a stretch. It was proposed that mail could be sent from one ‘mail transfer agent’ to another and get delivered when the recipient's machine was connected to the ARPANet. RFC 498 mentions that the TENEX SNDMSG command could send mail to users at remote hosts using the user@host syntax without requiring an FTP login; this was Ray Tomlinson's code. In November 1975, Jon Postel wrote RFC 706, ‘On the junk mail problem,’ suggesting that the problem of junk electronic mail had been at least contemplated, if not experienced. RFC 772, ‘Mail Transfer Protocol,’ by S. Sluizer and J. Postel, dated Sep-01-1980, inaugurated a series of RFCs which described the features of the Internet mail protocols, Leading eventually to the SMTP protocol used for mail today.”


HISTORICAL REVISIONISM #3 – INSERTING WORD TO MISLEAD READER OF
INTENTION TO DO ELECTRONIC “LETTERS”


Earlier when the email controversy began, Dr. Ayyadurai shared with Post's reporter Emi Kolawole that Van Vleck never intended to work on creating an electronic version of the letter, since his own management in the 1960s resisted him from working on electronic “letters”, e.g. the interoffice memo. On or about March 2012, Van Vleck inserted the word “initially” before “resisted” to revise history to lay claim that his management later allowed him to work on “letters”.


The Motivation for Revision

Dr. Ayyadurai's invention of EMAIL clearly defined email to be the electronic version of the interoffice inter-organization paper mail system. Van Vleck's deliberate revision by inserting the word "initially" can mislead a reader to believe that Van Vleck wanted to implement "letter".


The Evidence

The Evidence (BEFORE AND AFTER)


BEFORE AFTER

Note: Van Vleck clearly states that CTSS management resisted allowing him to create a system for sending “letters” e.g. To, From, Cc, Bcc, etc., but would allow him to create a system for sending/receiving, requests, e.g. text messages.


Here is the Original Text

“The idea of sending ‘letters’ using CTSS was resisted by management, as a waste of resources. However, CTSS Operations did need a faclility to inform users when a request to retrieve a file from tape had been completed, and we proposed MAIL as a solution for this need.”

Note: Now, “initially” added --- subtle but a BIG difference.


 


 



Here is the Revised Text

“The idea of sending ‘letters’ using CTSS was initially resisted by management, as a waste of resources. However, CTSS Operations did need a facility to inform users when a request to retrieve a file from tape had been completed, and we proposed MAIL as a solution for this need.”

V A Shiva - Inventor of Email
VA Shiva Ayyadurai's Personal Statement on Invention of Email
VA Shiva at the age of 14, Newark, 1978.As a Lecturer at the MIT, 2012.
Link to Podcast of VA Shiva Ayyadurai's Interview with SBS Australia Radio
Noam Chomsky on VA Shiva Ayyadurai's Invention of Email
Dr. Leslie Michelson on VA Shiva Ayyadurai's Invention of Email
V A Shiva - Inventing EMAIL

Learning Programming
@ NYU, 1978

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: Learning Programming, 1978

EMAIL was named in 1978 in FORTRAN IV

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: EMAIL was named in 1978 in FORTRAN IV

West Essex Tribune, 1980

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: First Email System, 1980

Westinghouse Award Entry, 1981

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: Westinghouse Award Entry, 1981

Westinghouse Award, 1981

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: Westinghouse Award, 1981

MIT Tech Talk, 1981

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: MIT Tech Talk, 1981

First US Copyright for EMAIL, 1982

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: First US Copyright for EMAIL, 1982

COMAND, 1982

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: COMAND, 1982

EMAIL User's Manual Copyright, 1982

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: EMAIL User's Manual Copyright, 1982

EMS Copyright, 1984

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: EMS Copyright, 1984

Beyond Email

U.S Patent: Relationship Management System and Method using Asynchronous Electronic Messaging, 2003

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: Relationship Management System and Method using Asynchronous Electronic Messaging, 2003

U.S Patent: System and Method for Content-Sensitive Automatic Reply Message Generation, 2004

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: U.S Patent: System and Method for Content-Sensitive Automatic Reply Message Generation, 2004

U.S Patent: Filter for Modeling System and Method for Handling and Routing of Text Based Aynchronous Commmunications, 2004

VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the Inventor of Email: Filter for Modeling System and Method for Handling and Routing of Text Based Aynchronous Commmunications, 2004

© 2012 - 2013  International Center for Integrative Systems. All Rights Reserved.