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

2012-02-18 21:23:32

Dave, I hope you continue following up on this. Even in his wikipedia (I presumed self created), he doesn't claim to be the inventor and pointed out there was existing systems. But he registered the copyright the term "EMAIL" and I guess from there, any layman may assume he invented email:

Prior to becoming a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, while a high school student at Livingston High School, New Jersey, he implemented an email system at the medical school of University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). Email had been previously sent on other networks such as AUTODIN, PLATO and ARPANet.


But he is claiming as the first to tie a database:

This was the first database-driven system that translated all elements of an inter-office memorandum/mail, then in paper form, along with features of Inbox, Outbox and Folders, to an electronic mail format. In 1981, this system was recognized by the Westinghouse Science Talent Search receiving an Honors Award. Later, in 1982, the US Copyright Office issued him the first copyright of his system called “EMAIL”.

It is pretty silly to claim a "Database" tie in since early systems were essentially centralized and unless he was using systems like Fidonet, which I believe he is very aware of since his company need borrows the name "EchoMail", each BBS system has its own database system.

He needs to be asked one question:

If you claim to be the inventor of "Email," then want hosting system did you use? Did you also write your own Mail Hosting software and also Mail Transport System?

The then cyber space expansion really started with people as 3rd party developers, its how I started, and you had to work with some existing platform and if the existing platform already had a database tie on, then obviously he did not invent this natural law concept. There is always a database or store of some kind.

But he seems to be taking credit for the UI and I am curious to know what package he had because if one thing was true, there was a lot of proprietary, contract work people did - that is how I started as well with the development of an smart terminal/PC X.400 Email Interface with the basic idea of printing out the email for your morning reviews. That started for me in 81, but I recall during the late 70s during college, using Prime mini-computers to send/receive electronic mail. I don't remember the packages, but it was surely commercial.

This Westinghouse Science kid (I was associated with the selection committee as a Minority Representation and Speaker at High Schools, but didn't have any voting responsibility, just a token minority symbol) simply had exposure to existing commercial systems and perhaps wrote a fancy UI (had to be dial up) and got a big pat on the back and not surprising because it was really still new. But he went ahead and copyrighted the term "EMAIL" and some how was awarded the copyright. Also, not surprising with the era but I am very surprised at what appears to be a Smithsonian lack of due diligence here.


Dave CROCKER wrote:

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 R-2134]


Hector Santos
jabber: hector(_at_)jabber(_dot_)isdg(_dot_)net

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