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Re: V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai: Inventor of e-mail honored by Smithsonian

2012-02-18 20:04:44

For reference, I just sent this message:

Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2012 17:14:29 -0800
From: Dave CROCKER <dhc(_at_)dcrocker(_dot_)net>
Reply-To: dcrocker(_at_)bbiw(_dot_)net
Organization: Brandenburg InternetWorking
To: Peggy Kidwell <kidwellp(_at_)si(_dot_)edu>
CC: Emi Kolawole <emi(_dot_)kolawole(_at_)washtingtonpost(_dot_)com>
Subject: V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai's purported invention of email

Ms. Kidwell,


I just saw the Washington Post article about V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai's work being
acknowledged by the Smithsonian as the invention of email.  In the video
associated with the article, he cites contact with you.  So I thought you might
be appropriate to contact for possible followup through the Smithsonian. I'm
trying to copy Post article's author, but am guessing at her email address.

Unfortunately, Ayyadurai's work was not even close to the earliest email.

Email dates back to the 1960's with the earliest computer timesharing systems,
such as at MIT.

Networked email was invented by Ray Tomlinson at Bolt, Beranek & Newman (BBN) in
1971; the email object from then looks remarkably similar to the basic message
that Internet Mail; the  service has actually been in continuous operation since

Ray added inter-machine transfer -- ie, networking -- to the existing "sndmsg"
mail system on BBN's timesharing system and it already had To:, cc: and From:.
I don't recall whether it had bcc, but bcc was certainly in use shortly after
that.  For example, it was in the system that I built in 1976.  I've attached
some documentation about that system (MS).  This core functionality pre-dates my
own efforts; this is just the easiest way I can document it for you.  I should
also mention that Ray and I were given the IEEE Internet Award for our
respective work on email.

Over the last year or so, Ayyadurai contacted me about with his claims.  I
ignored them because they are so easy to disprove. (As one of my colleagues just
noted, try looking up email in Wikipedia.)  Again referring to the attached Rand
Report, note that the first paragraph in the Preface has the term 'electronic
mail'.  And again I'll note that mine was not original use of the term.

I'm glad to chat with you or anyone else about the real history of email,
although I wasn't in at its actual start.  My own involvement did not begin
until 1972...

[attachment:  Framework & Functions of the MS Message System, Rand Report 


  Dave Crocker
  Brandenburg InternetWorking

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