Necessity is the mother of all inventions. But sometimes we knowingly or unknowingly forget the inventors. Email is such an invention. From its arrival to till now we consider it as an invention that reduced the distance between people. But, who invented email? Do you have a perfect answer? The story unfolds here.

In 1978, when Shiva Ayyadurai, a 14 year old, dark skinned, lower caste, Indian immigrant boy, working at the University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey wrote over 50, 000 lines  of code to invent the world’s first full scale electronic emulation of the interoffice, inter  organizational mail system consisting of: Inbox, Outbox, Folders, the Memo, Attachments, etc, naming the program email, defining email as we all experience today, for which he received the copyright for email in 1982, from the United States government officially recognizing him as the inventor of email.Shiva Ayyadurai has the first US copyright for email, or computer program for electronic mail system.

But missing from the scroll is the official recognition, from the government and the tech community at large, which says he only capitalized on the infrastructure provided by the military and other pioneers, including Tomlinson, to make some contributions in the advancement of electronic mail as we know it today. Still most of the world considers Raymond Tomlinson, the inventor of email. At least, there exists a debate over the matter.

interviews, Ayyadurai has argued that as a 14-year old in New Jersey in 1978, he not only had no access to the early technologies that were strictly in the military domain, he didn’t need their parts, their protocol, or the Internet. His work centered on using local area networks and Ethernet cords.

What Raymond Tomlinson did, Ayyadurai clarifies, is send text messages between computers. “It is also an obvious and inescapable fact that sending a text message is not email since email, as we all know, is a system that includes features such as Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Folders, Attachments, Carbon Copies, Groups, Forwarding, Reply, Delete, Archive, Sort, Bulk Distribution, and more,” he writes on his website.

Ayyaduari, on the other hand, invented a software system

The Forgotten Man…!!!

that duplicates the features of the Interoffice Mail System. Who is behind this? - This historical series will reveal that it was a group of industry insiders, former employees, alumni and partners loyal to Raytheon/BBN, and the ARPANET coterie, along with SIGCIS, a cabal of “historians”, who for nearly 30 years, had created a revisionist history of email’s origin, for nearly three decades to hijack the boy’s invention of email.

Their motive was to not only to protect Raytheon/BBN’s multi-billion dollar brand as the “inventors of email”, which gave them an unfair advantage in the competitive cyber-security market against Northrup-Grumman and General Dynamics, but also to monopolize and perpetuate a false and deplorable narrative that innovation could only occur within the bastions of big companies like Raytheon, large universities such as MIT and the military such as the ARPANET.

The documented evidence, now in the Smithsonian, exposed the false history of email that these insiders had fabricated and perpetuated over the past thirty years. Shiva and his colleagues responded by launching the website www.inventorofemail.com to share the facts including primary sources and historical documents.

Email has changed our lives - It is evident that computer-mediated communication (CMC) has become very common in our life. E-mail is still the most prevalent

 form of CMC. And, in fact, the increasing use of mobile devices has given the eperience of e-mail a new dimension.

Speech and language, our primary and oldest communication tools, have been with us since very early in our evolution. And, not long after, we developed written forms of communication, and began recording our thoughts and history on stone, papyrus, wood, cave walls, and any other means available. This is perhaps our primary activity as humans; in our essence we are communicating beings.

Well before the age of transport, we were looking at ways to  communicate over distance. Some of our early methods were carrier pigeons, smoke signals, and Morse code flags.

Then, as the age of transport, the industrial revolution and the beginnings of the information age came to us, we set about using the new tools and technologies available to us to further our capacity to communicate and to disseminate information. Electronic networks began with the telephone, or telegraph system as it was known in the beginning. With the arrival of internet And emails the walls between the borders has demolished.

What made emails different from all these devices is that it has converted our large world into a small one. We enjoyed the facility of mailing around 

the globe. With the widespread use of e-mail, postal mail has especially taken a huge hit.  Although many still use postal services for the payment of bills, even payments are largely being undertaken electronically. It is evident that the social networking site which has gained widespread popularity among us has its origin in email. Communication becomes speedy. Voice mails and Video chats are introduced. It has completely changed the way we communicate. Our words became part of history, as; Digital data can be stored and referenced later. In fact, email came out as a solution for deforestation as it facilitates paperless communication. With emails many people have found it very easy to send bulk details of information to an individual or group of people at once. This has made life very easy.

 Now we could make a face to face interaction with a person who is miles away from us. All these become possible with the invention of email. Such a revolutionary invention!! Then why the person behind this invention still remains unrecognized? Has he got the respect he needed? No. Still there are people who don’t accept the fact that Shiva Aiyyadurai invented email.

Where is Aiyyadurai?After the controversy unfolded, MIT disassociated itself from Ayyadurai's EMAIL Lab and  funding  was dropped.  MIT  also

revoked Ayyadurai's contract to lecture at the bioengineering department.  Ayyadurai presented a press release on his webpage asserting that his undergraduate professor Noam Chomsky of MIT's Department of Linguistics and Philosophy also supported his claims.

In March 2016, Ayyadurai alleged that the overlooking of his achievements was a result of racism and a conspiracy between mainstream media and the military-industrial complex, particularly Raytheon where Tomlinson worked on ARPANET. After Tomlinson's death, Ayyadurai told The Hindu that he believed that news outlets retracted their stories about him because "Raytheon advertises in publications like the Huffington Post and CNN" and that if he were "a white guy and had a copyright for email, I would have my photo on every stamp in the world." The day after Tomlinson's death, Ayyadurai tweeted: "I'm the low-caste, darkskinned, Indian, who DID invent #email. Not Raytheon, who profits for war & death. Their mascot Tomlinson dies a liar"

In May 2016, Ayyadurai filed suit against Gawker Media for $35 million, alleging that Gawker published "false and defamatory statements", causing "substantial damage to Dr. Ayyadurai'spersonal and professional reputation and career." Gawker Media settled the lawsuit in November 2016. After that, in a statement, Ayyaduraisaid that "history will reflect that this settlement is a victory for truth".

In January 2017, Ayyadurai, filed a $15 million libel lawsuit on similar grounds against Techdirt founder Mike Masnick and two other parties for a series of articles published beginning in September 2014.

Even though the invention has created a history of its own, the fights over its inventor still continue. While we are enjoying the luxuries of email the man who created email is still not known. Is this also pointing its fingers towards Racism??

 

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