Email is the direct translation of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper-based mail system. In 1978, the first email system was created at UMDNJ in Newark, NJ. Several technological components were critical to the invention of email. Following this invention, various other products starting in 1984, came into the commercial market as shown in the infographic below. After the Smithsonian's acceptance of the papers and artifacts documenting the invention of EMAIL, on February 16, 2012, industry insiders unleashed an irrational denial of the invention and initiated personal attacks aimed to discredit Dr. Ayyadurai and his life's work.
These attacks were like an immune response reacting to a potential invader;in this case, Ayyadurai being seen as an invader by a vocal minority of industry insiders who believe they can monopolize innovation.
This vocal minority, as Dr. Leslie P. Michelson, stated "have elected to hijack [Dr. Ayyadurai's] accomplishment, apparently not satisfied with the recognition they have already received for their contributions to the field" of early text messaging. Some of these insiders, David Crocker (RAND), Tom Van Vleck (MIT) and Ray Tomlinson (BBN), who were earlier competitors and for years have been self-promoting, making false claims, and conflating their early work on earlier text messaging systems, have now organized as one group against Dr. Ayyadurai.
There are many examples of their collusion and revisionism to obliterate the facts of the invention of email. One blatant example of such historical revisionism is by Tom Van Vleck, who at best was earlier sarcastic towards Ray Tomlinson's false claim as "inventor of email", now seems to have changed his tune, within weeks of the Smithsonian news. Another example is the collaboration of a group called SIGCIS and its "historian", in April of 2012, to attempt, to retroactively “define email”, so as to conflate and claim their work done prior to 1978 as "email". Another blatant example, is the registration of a website called "Internet Hall of Fame", seven (7) days after the Smithsonian news on February 24, 2012, and the sudden awarding of the moniker "Inventor of Email" to Ray Tomlinson on April 23, 2012.
By observing the timeline of the history of attacks against Dr. Ayyadurai, anyone can come to their own conclusions and recognize that a multi-billion dollar company, Raytheon and its subsidiary BBN (where Ray Tomlinson has worked since the late 1960's) is determined to protect its false branding that BBN and Tomlinson invented "email".
This behavior is unfortunate. It demonstrates how the “not invented” attitude still persists in 2012.
Several critical components, beyond the hardware infrastructure, were necessary for the invention of EMAIL, the first email system. These included: (1) The FORTRAN Programming Language, (2) Database Technology, (3) Robust Operating System, and (4) Networking Protocols. The history of these innovations are as follows:
1954 - John Backus develops the FORTRAN language for IBM [i]
1960 - Charles Bachman invents database technology [ii]
1973 - Ethernet is developed by Bob Metcalfe [iii]
1978 - TCIP/IP was developed by Danny Cohen, David Reed and John Shoch [iv]
Note: In 1978, at UMDNJ, they had no access to the work of the ARPAnet engineers. Moreover, the development of the first email system at UMDNJ did not rely any of ARPAnet developments.
The development of EMAIL, the first email system began in 1978. The infographic below provides an accurate timeline. Prior to the invention of EMAIL, independent work by early innovators, was done on networking and early messaging systems. The history of text messaging systems dates back to the early 1800s.
Annotated Timeline of Invention of First Email System
1978 - VA Shiva Ayyadurai develops EMAIL, the first email system at UMDNJ. Email is the electronic version of the interoffice inter-organizational mail system that offers doctors at UMDNJ the ability to manage mail electronically as they did with their paper-based mail system.
1979 - VA Shiva Ayyadurai develops administrative system for email maintenance and management.
1980 - VA Shiva Ayyadurai develops EMAIL User's Manual.
1981 - Westinghouse Science Talent Search Award committee recognizes VA Shiva Ayyadurai with Honors Award for EMAIL, first email system that is user-friendly, network-wide, high-reliability features, defining email as we all know today.
1982 - US Copyright Office issues first Copyright for “EMAIL“, the “Computer Program for Electronic Mail System”, and another Copyright to Email User's Manual to VA Shiva Ayyadurai [v]
1982 - Jon Postel develops SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) [vi]
1983 - Jon Postel, Paul Mockapetris, and Craig Partridge to support the email addressing space, create domain suffixes .edu, .gov, .com, .mil, .org, .net, & .int. [vii]
1985 - Development of "offline readers." Offline readers allowed email users to store their email on their own personal computers, and then read it and prepare replies without actually being connected to the network - sort of like Microsoft Outlook can do today. [viii]
1988 - Eudora developed by Steve Dorner. [viii]
1988 - Vinton Cerf arranges for the connection of MCI Mail to the NSFNET through the Corporation for the National Research Initiative (CNRI) for "experimental use", providing the first sanctioned commercial use of the Internet.
1989 - The CompuServe mail system also connected to the NSFNET, through the Ohio State University network. [ix]
1989 - MCI offers the connection of MCI Mail. It is initially provided to NSFNET through the Corporation for the National Research Initiative as an experiment. This offers the first commercial use of the Internet.
1990 - CompuServe offers its email, connected to the NSFNET, through the Ohio State University network. [ix]
1991 - Lotus Notes is released.
1993 - America On-line and Delphi offers global Internet Mail. Their solution makes it easy for an ordinary citizen to get an email account and use an email system.
1996 - Microsoft Internet Mail and News, news client and ancestor of Outlook Express, version 1.0 is released following the Internet Explorer 3 release.
1997 - Microsoft Internet Mail and News is renamed as Outlook Express and bundled with Internet Explorer 4. [x]
1999 - Blackberry is released.
2003 - CAN-SPAM Act is signed into law by George W. Bush.
2007 - Gmail is released.
2009 - iPhone makes email even more easily accessible.
2011 - Associated Press Stylebook declares the use of EMAIL without “-” as a standard unaware of US Copyright for EMAIL from 1978.
A group of industry insiders have carried out a brutal attack against the inventor of email to protect vested interests. These attacks are detailed below.
November 11, 2011
Time Magazine news story entitled, The Man Who Invented Email is released after Doug Aamoth, online Technology Editor, reviews primary sources and artifacts.
November 15, 2011
Dr. Ayyadurai begins discussion with David Thorburn, director of MIT Communications Forum, to host and moderate a panel on the “Future of the US Post Office”
December 15, 2011
Dr. Ayyadurai is invited to present a keynote/platform talk at EMBL in Germany on CytoSolve, a scalable system for dynamic integration of molecular pathway models.
January 11, 2012
International Center for Integrative Systems, a non-profit Center founded by Dr. Ayyadurai executes an Agreement with a major sponsor who has agreed to provide a substantial grant for Dr. Ayyadurai's research on Biomimetics of Media and Communications.
January 12, 2012
Boston Innovation writes a story on Dr. Ayyadurai's efforts to assist the US Postal Service (USPS). In response to this positive article, a blogger posts saying Dr. Ayyadurai is “a flagrant fraud” and not the inventor of email. This blogger then makes the false claim that he, the blogger is the inventor of email attachments in 1992. The first email system of 1978 already had attachments.
February 16, 2012
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, holds a special donation ceremony to accept the code, tapes, papers and artifacts on the invention of EMAIL.
February 17, 2012
In response to the donation ceremony, Washington Post writes an article “VA Shiva Ayyadurai honored as inventor of e-mail by Smithsonian”. The Post also posts several video interviews with Dr. Ayyadurai.
February 17-24, 2012
Tom Van Vleck updates his History of Electronic Mail site multicians.org site to include Ayyadurai's copyright for EMAIL in fine print on top of site. (Then later removes it). Van Vleck then conducts historical revisionism on his own site to credit Tomlinson, who Van Vleck had earlier repudiated with sarcastic comments exposing Tomlinson’s exaggeration as the “inventor of email”.
February 22, 2012
A blog TechDirt writes an article called “How The Guy Who Didn't Invent Email Got Memorialized In The Press & The Smithsonian As The Inventor Of Email”. TechDirt never reviewed the artifacts at the Smithsonian nor contacted Dr. Ayyadurai for any questions.
February 23, 2012
Gizmodo, owned by Gawker media, writes an article defaming Dr. Ayyadurai's picture with “Imposter”, and says that The Inventor of Email Did Not Invent Email? They have neither contacted Dr. Ayyadurai nor reviewed any of the artifacts at the Smithsonian. A SIGCIS “historian” rabidly attacks Dr. Ayyadurai. This historian also never reviewed any of the artifacts at the Smithsonian. They label Dr. Ayyadurai a “Fraud”. Gizmodo dismisses Dr. Ayyadurai's invention using false claims and misuse of the term email.
February 24, 2012
The Internet Society registers InternetHallOfFame.Org.
February 27, 2012
A SIGCIS “historian” states “VA Shiva Ayyadurai is one of the billions of people who didn't invent email. No hedges or qualifiers needed.” This “historian”, a part of industry insiders such as BBN, RAND, and DARPA rabidly attacks Dr. Ayyadurai while promoting false claims. The quality of his scholarship is questionable, given his primary references are Gizmodo and TechDirt. (See Gizmodo's approach to journalism.)
February 28, 2012
MIT Biological Engineering reappoints Dr. Ayyadurai as Lecture in Biological Engineering. Appointment is extended for an additional year until February 2013.
March 1, 2012
Washington Post ombudsman is pressured by David Crocker and Tom Van Vleck to “correct” article written on Dr. Ayyadurai by Emi Kolawole. Dr. Ayyadurai is never contacted by the Ombudsman. The ombudsman writes a “mea culpa”, which says ombudsman eats crow. The story references only Dr. Ayyadurai's detractors, and discrediting Dr. Ayyadurai's invention. Neither the ombudsman, Crocker, Van Vleck nor any of the other quoted sources have reviewed Dr. Ayyadurai's artifacts.
March 2, 2012
Washington Post agrees to carry two bylined articles by Dr. Ayyadurai and Prof. Noam Chomsky in a rebuttal format with two of Dr. Ayyadurai's detractors. The Post explicitly lays ground rules that neither article can have personal attacks, nor references, direct or indirect, to the other two parties. All parties agree to these ground rules.
March 5, 2012
Gizmodo publishes another article calling Dr. Ayyadurai “crazy”, “asshole”, “dick”, etc. saying he is exaggerating and not the inventor of email. This is a brutal defamatory and libelous attack. There are no references or primary sources, except “anonymous sources” at MIT. Gizmodo does not bother to review artifacts available at Smithsonian.
March 5 – March 30, 2012
A concerted effort is deployed by detractors of Ayyadurai on Wikipedia to defame and discredit him. His attribution to other work that he did beyond email is also defaced. For example, his name is removed from his early work with Prof. Robert Langer on Flow Visualization as well as his work with Prof. C. Forbes Dewey, Jr. in Systems Biology.
March 5, 2012
The Verge publishes an article called “Exposing the self-proclaimed inventor of email”. This article, again, has no primary sources, no interview with Dr. Ayyadurai and no review of artifacts and is merely a replication of the Gizmodo article.
March 6, 2012
Boston Innovation writes an article stating/implying that Dr. Ayyadurai is a fraud. The article is entitled “Did MIT Professor VA Shiva Ayyadurai Really Invent Email, Or Is He Just a Fraud?”. The article has no primary sources, no references, no interview with Dr. Ayyadurai and no review of artifacts and is just a duplication of the Gizmodo article.
March 6, 2012
Boing Boing writes another defamatory and libelous article. This article states “He's generally described by his colleagues as a nut and fraud”—the terms “asshole,” and “loon” were tossed around freely by professors who were happy to talk about their coworker but prefer to remain anonymous”. This article has no primary sources, no references, no interview with Dr. Ayyadurai and no review of artifacts and is just a duplication of the Gizmodo article.
March 8, 2012
Internet Society issues a formal press release announcing the creation of the “Internet Hall of Fame”.
March 10, 2012
MIT CMS Director William Uricchio sends an email to Dr. Ayyadurai renouncing CMS’ affiliation with MIT Email Lab and asks Dr. Ayyadurai to remove “MIT” and pictures of two faculty, who had agreed to be part of the MIT Email LAB. Uricchio informed Ayyadurai that he receives news from the Provost' office concerning the Gizmodo news.
March 14, 2012
David Thorburn, the director of the MIT Communications Forum, informs Dr. Ayyadurai that he has been receiving numerous comments that he (Thorburn) should cancel the MIT Communications Forum, “The Future of the Post Office”. Thorburn states that he is under incredible pressure “all the recent news”.
March 14, 2012
David Crocker, one of Dr. Ayyadurai's detractors registers emailhistory.org to promote his “collaborative” history of “email”.
March 15, 2012
Emi Kolawole contacts Dr. Ayyadurai and informs him that one of the two detractors wishes to make personal attacks and refers Dr. Ayyadurai by name. She admits she has relaxed the originally agreed upon ground rules and tells Dr. Ayyadurai he “...can also attack...” his detractors. Dr. Ayyadurai and Prof. Chomsky do not want to participate in sensationalism and urges the Post to abide by the original ground rules.
March 15, 2012
Dr. Ayyadurai conducts and moderates MIT Communications Forum on the “Future of the US Post Office”. During the first part of the Forum, Thorburn discusses the email controversy with the audience. This discussion is edited out from the final video that is posted on the MIT Website. After the event, Thorburn tells Dr. Ayyadurai that Dr. Ayyadurai was wronged, thanks Dr. Ayyadurai for his great job and promises to initiate corrective action on behalf of Dr. Ayyadurai, so the facts of his invention of email can come out publicly. (To date Thorburn is yet to contact Dr. Ayyadurai.)
March 19, 2012
The Washington Post sends a terse note that they have decided not to run Dr. Ayyadurai's and Prof. Chomsky's bylined articles. They also state that they will not run the article written by SIGCIS "historian" who wanted to wage personal attacks. Only one of the detractors piece runs. Earlier the Post's editorial board had enthusiastically approved both Dr. Ayyadurai's and Prof. Chomsky's articles. Below is an email from one of the Post editors in reference to the bylined article of Dr. Ayyadurai which was approved.
Hi Shiva -
I think this is it. My senior editor read through the entire thing
again and really liked it. He found your narrative compelling and
graceful, and he's a tough (skeptical) audience. Please read through
the entire piece again. I made a few minor edits in the top for copy
editing and accuracy.
I know you are angry -- and rightfully so. The reflex to lash out is
almost impossible to resist. But I believe you resisted it
successfully here. This piece showcases your attention to detail,
determination and grace under fire with no trace of hyperbole or
vitriol -- and it will win over your audience, showcasing a stark
contrast to the personal attacks and name-calling that have dominated
in the comments on the Post Web site and elsewhere online. Those who
have resorted to snark and invective will not expect this. Regardless
of whether they agree with your claims, I believe you come out the
bigger man, as the saying goes and many will be forced to respect
I look forward to reading what everyone else writes, of course, but I
have learned a great deal in working with you on this. I hope the
process was rewarding for you as well.
Cheers and have a great weekend!
Editor | Innovations & On Giving
The Washington Post
March 20, 2012
Tom Van Vleck, whose web site on the History of Email was earlier highly sarcastic of Tomlinson and exposed the fact that he did not invent email, began to conduct historical revisionism to drop sarcasm against Tomlinson and now present Tomlinson as "the inventor of email".
April 1, 2012
Dr. Ayyadurai receives an email, saying that his talk at EMBL in Germany on CytoSolve has been cancelled and he has been removed from the speaker line up. He asks for explanation and receives no response.
April 2, 2012
The President of the Sponsor company, which had agreed on January 11,2012 to provide a substantial grant, sends a sudden email to Dr. Ayyadurai stating that they have received an anonymous email referencing the Gizmodo, Boston Innovation articles. The email states that Dr. Ayyadurai is a fraud, and imposter and brings to question his integrity.
April 9, 2012
Dr. Ayyadurai receives a notice from Sponsor indicating his credentials must be authenticated to show that he in fact has four degrees from MIT. The notice gives Dr. Ayyadurai less than 72 hours to respond or the grant will be cancelled. Dr. Ayyadurai's attorney contacts Sponsor and informs him that this is insulting.
April 9, 2012
MIT Biological Engineering Department Chairman sends Dr. Ayyadurai a note that his MIT Lectureship, which had been renewed for a period of 1-year Feb 2012 to Feb 2013, must now been rescinded. No clear reasons are given. A colleague informs Dr. Ayyadurai that the Gizmodo news became too "politically expensive" for the Chairman to keep Dr. Ayyadurai on an as a Lecturer.
April 11, 2012
William Uricchio interrupts Dr. Ayyadurai's tutorial class, concerned about call from Boston Magazine reporter. Dr. Ayyadurai has not seen Uricchio for nearly a month. Dr. Ayyadurai expresses his deep dismay at how Uricchio has behaved in acquiescing to the yellow journalism of Gizmodo. Uricchio's Civic Media group, ironically, gets funded by Knight Journalism Foundation to do research on bettering journalism.
April 16, 2012
A SIGCIS "historian" blogs with contents of the article that the Washington Post rejected. This article has little to do with email but more bent on simply discrediting Dr. Ayyadurai with false claims. This article appears to be a pre-emptive response to Boston Magazine's article due in late May 2012.
April 17, 2012
Dave Walden, former BBN employee, posts comment that he and his friends met with the reporter from Boston Magazine and set her “straight”.
April 23, 2012
The Internet Hall of Fame announces Ray Tomlinson as “inventor of e-mail”. This press release is sent from Raytheon/BBN.
April 23, 2012
The InternetHallofFame.Org website appears have been built in short order by Raisedeye Brow.
April 24, 2012
Dr. Ayyadurai is removed from Van Vleck's "History of Electronic Mail" website. Earlier Dr. Ayyadurai had been recognized as the holder of the Copyright for EMAIL. Van Vleck has made other revisions to cast Tomlinson in a far better light than his earlier version displayed.
April 24, 2012
Press releases from Raytheon/BBN are picked up by the Boston Globe which reports Ray Tomlinson is the “inventor of e-mail”.
April 25-26, 2012
Press releases from Raytheon/BBN to Washington Post Style Section declare Tomlinson is the “godfather of email”. Similarly Mass High Tech states he is the “king of email”.
April 27, 2012
BBN web site reveals Raytheon/BBN's intentional branding to position themselves as innovators by juxtaposing the "@" symbol with Tomlinson’s picture as the “Inventor of Email”.
BBN has much to gain by continuing to misuse the term "email". Using false claims, industry insiders such as BBN and others believe that they can revise and alter history to ensure the facts of Dr. Ayyadurai's invention of email is discredited, so the public is confused into thinking that email existed prior to 1978.
Standard histories of the Internet are full of claims that certain individuals (and teams) in the ARPAnet environment and other large companies in the 1970s and 1980s “invented email.” For example, the familiar “@” sign, early programs for sending and receiving messages, and technical specifications known as RFCs, are examples of such false claims to “email”. Prior to the creation of EMAIL, there was no intention to create email, e.g. to emulate the interoffice, inter-organizational mail system.
The fact show as late as December 1977 one claimant by his own admission stated “At this time, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system.” As another fact shows, by the claimants own admission, in the mid 1960's, the developers of early text messaging systems were dissuaded from even attempting to create a digital version of the now familiar “letter” or memo. This claimant, now seeking to consider his invention “email”, by his own admission has shared the following statement “The idea of sending letters ...was resisted by management, as a waste of resources.”
Sending text messages electronically could be said to date back to the Morse code telegraph of the mid 1800s; or the 1939 World's Fair where IBM sent a message of congratulations from San Francisco to New York on an IBM radio-type, calling it a “high-speed substitute for mail service in the world of tomorrow.” The original text message, electronic transfer of content or images, ARPANET messaging, and even the “@“ sign were used in primitive electronic communication systems. While the technology pioneers who created these systems should be heralded for their efforts, and given credit for their specific accomplishments and contributions, these early computer programs were clearly not email.
The early message transaction developments allowed one user to transact an electronic text message with another user. Such communication was command driven and hence was only used by technical people who knew how to craft the cryptic code to send a message between two people. This was electronic text messaging, and not an email system, a system of interlocking parts, each of which is essential for ordinary people to communicate effectively with one or many others, in an environment where different kinds of information must be shared (memos, documents, files, etc.) i.e. the modern office environment. Early electronic messaging systems allowed multiple users on one computer to leave each other messages, like a yellow sticky note.
One user could leave a message by appending that message to a file, that was owned and accessible by the user, similar to having a notepad where people write notes to each other at the bottom, as a way for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate. The exact history is not clear. But according to some people, among the first systems to have such a facility were SDC's Q32 and MIT's CTSS. This capability was quickly extended to become network electronic messaging, allowing users to pass messages between different computers. The early history of network electronic messaging is equally unclear. According to others, AUTODIN system may have been the first allowing electronic text messages to be transferred between users on different computers in 1966, but it is possible the SAGE system had something similar some time before.[xi]
The first text messaging system, it appears, was developed by Tom Van Vleck and Noel Morris in CTSS at MIT for sending messages. This was before Ray Tomlinson's development, which rightly makes Van Vleck characterize it as “exaggerating” to say Tomlinson "invented email". Early electronic messaging was just a small advance on what we know these days as a file directory - it just put a message in another user's directory in a spot where they could see it when they logged in --- simple as that. Just like leaving a note on someone's desk.[viii]
So while electronic mail transactions via file transfers on a single computer and across a computers (network electronic messaging) existed before 1978, they were hardly an email system, per the definition of email. Many components, beyond just being able to transfer messages across computers were necessary to build an email system.
Annotated Timeline of Electronic Text Messaging
1961 - Early message transactions through file sharing by Tom Van Vleck. MIT developed CTSS (Compatible Time Sharing System). Users passed messages using files on a central server. One user could log in to create a file and another user would open that file and read the message. [xii]
1961 - Leonard Kleinrock publishes "Information Flow in Large Communication Nets" describing the "Internet" [xiii]
1962 - J.C.R. Liklider envisions the "galactic network" [xiv]
1962 - Bob Bermer develops ASCII naming standard [xv]
1965 - The SNDMSG program was created to allow one user to leave an electronic message to another user by appending to a file.
1966 - AUTODIN and SAGE allow electronic text messages to be transferred between users on different computers.
1968 - Elmer Shapiro leads the Network Working Group at SRI [xvi]
1968 - Paul Baran, Thomas Marill, Lawrence Roberts and Barry Wessler create Interface Message Processor specifications [xvii]
1968 - CPYNET developed to transfer files across computers
1969 - UCLA introduces Internet to the public [xvii]
1969 - First Internet Message is sent from Kleinrocks’s lab at UCLA [xviii]
1971 - Ray Tomlinson offers features similar to AUTODIN and SAGE for sending TEXT messages across multiple computers, in his own implementation by copying CPYNET code into SNDMSG using @ symbol to indicate recipient.
1971 - Larry Roberts writes RD at ARPA to list incoming messages and support forwarding, filing, and responding to them. [xix]
1972 - Commands MAIL and MLFL were added to the FTP program (RFC 385) to provide standard network transport capabilities for email transmission. FTP sent a separate copy of each email to each recipient.
1973 - TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) developed by Vinton Cerf, Robert Kahn [ix]
1974 - Yogen Dalal and Carl Sunshine Publish RFC 675 protocol [xx]
1974 - Telnet is introduced as the first Internet Service Provider [xxi]
1975 - John Vital developed some software to organize electronic messages
1975 - DARPA program manager Steve Walker initiates a project at RAND to develop an MSG-like email capability for the Unix operating system.
1977 - Dave Crocker, John Vittal, Kenneth Pogran, and D. Austin Henderson collaborate on a DARPA initiative to collect various email data formats into a single, coherent specification, resulting in RFC 733.
1977-1978 - Crocker followed Dave Farber to the University of Delaware, where they took on a project for the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) to develop a capability to relay electronic messages over dial-up telephone lines for sites that couldn't connect directly to the ARPANET. [ix]
1978 - TCIP/IP was developed by Danny Cohen, David Reed and John Shoch [iv]
© 2012 - 2014 International Center for Integrative Systems. All Rights Reserved.