Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Didn’t

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Mon Jan 30, 2017 6:07 am

Legal Threats By Charles Harder & Shiva Ayyadurai Targeting More Speech
by Mike Masnick
January 26, 2017

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Let's say right upfront: if you are unaware, Shiva Ayyadurai is currently suing Techdirt for our posts concerning Ayyaduria's claims to have invented email. Ayyadurai's lawyer in this matter is Charles Harder, the lawyer who filed multiple lawsuits against Gawker, and is credited by many with forcing that company into bankruptcy and fire sale.

Now Harder, on behalf of Ayyadurai, has sent a demand letter to try to have social media comments posted in response to the lawsuit against us taken down. We are writing about this -- despite the lawsuit against us -- because we believe it is important and we do not intend to have our own speech chilled. This is also why we believe it is so important to have a federal anti-SLAPP law in place, because the chance to chill speech with threats or actual litigation is not a hypothetical problem. It is very, very real.

Harder's letter is to Diaspora, and it demands that certain posts by Roy Schestowitz be removed (which appears to have happened). Schestowitz is the guy behind the Techrights blog, which frequently covers issues related to things like free v. proprietary software and software patents. Harder's letter to Diaspora claims that Schestowitz's posts are defamatory, violate Diaspora's terms of service, and "constitute harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress."

Harder Mirell & Abrams
132 S. RODEO DRIVE, FOURTH FLOOR
BEVERLY HILLS, CA 90212
424.203.1600 - http://WWW.HMAFIRM.COM

January 24, 2017

CONFIDENTIAL / COPYRIGHT PROTECTED
NOT FOR PUBLICATION OR DISSEMINATION

VIA E-MAIL
Diaspora*
support@zauberstuhl.de
support@diasp.org

Re: Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai - Demand for Removal of Diaspora* Posts

Dear Diaspora*:

This law firm is litigation counsel for Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai. We write in connection with the numerous libelous statements in three Diaspora* and Joindiaspora* (collectively referred to as "Diaspora" or "you") posts published by Diaspora user "Dr. Roy Schestowitz (__) ("Mr. Schestowitz) located at the URLs:


Dr. Roy Schestowitz @schestowitz
Ayyadurai is pure evil. Charlatan who lied, paid to spread his Big Lie, when media debunked his lies and sued and got money out of it. Fraud
4:38 AM - 7 Nov 2016

Dr. Roy Schestowitz ‏@schestowitz
"Ayyadurai’s settlement with Gawker Media represents a victory for a" pathetic #liar and #fraud
7 Nov 2016

Dr. Roy Schestowitz ‏@schestowitz
#trump should hire the liar, Shiva Ayyadurai
Feb 7

Dr. Roy Schestowitz ‏@schestowitz
Deepak Chopra, a charlatan and a liar (some would say fraud), turns out to be connected to Shiva Ayyadurai. Para 2:
Feb 5

Dr. Roy Schestowitz ‏@schestowitz
If You Repeatedly Make False Claims, Then Expect Criticism, Shiva Ayyadurai http://schestowitz.com/Weblog/archives/ ... se-claims/
Jan 28

Dr. Roy Schestowitz ‏@schestowitz
Anyone out there who received threatening legal letters from Shiva Ayyadurai (including social network platforms)? Please get in touch...
Jan 25

Dr. Roy Schestowitz ‏@schestowitz
Social [Control] Media is now being censored by Shiva Ayyadurai
By means of legal threats on the face of it (still investigating)...
Jan 25

Dr. Roy Schestowitz ‏@schestowitz
I can't seem to find some of my tweets about Shiva Ayyadurai. Did he threaten #twitter like he threatened #JoinDiaspora?
cc @techdirt
Jan 24

Dr. Roy Schestowitz ‏@schestowitz
Here's The Truth: Shiva Ayyadurai Didn't Invent Email https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20161 ... mail.shtml … charlatan and liar
5 Nov 2016

Dr. Roy Schestowitz ‏@schestowitz
"Ayyadurai also threatened to sue us for calling out his false claims, but there's been no lawsuit yet." https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160 ... mail.shtml … #email
8 Mar 2016


Harder's letter makes the questionable claim that Diaspora itself is liable for Schestowitz's statements. There is tremendous caselaw on Section 230 of the CDA holding that a website cannot be held liable for speech made by users, so it's odd that Harder would argue otherwise, stating that the posts "qualify under the law to establish liability against you."

The Posts Constitute Harassment and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

The falsity of the Posts significantly damages Dr. Ayyadurai's persona and public image. Moreover, through the Posts, Mr. Schestowitz seeks to incite a wave of harassment against Dr. Ayyaudrai. Mr. Schestowitz has used Diaspora as a platform to wrongfully and unlawfully harm Dr. Ayyadurai's personal and professional reputation, which he has worked so hard, for decades, to achieve.

The Posts also constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress, and qualify under the law to establish liability against you. Remedies include monetary damages, punitive damages, and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief.


One of the key reasons Section 230 of the CDA exists is to protect the freedom of expression of users, so that websites aren't pressured via legal threats to take down speech over fear of liability. That's why it grants full immunity. It is surprising that an attorney as established as Harder would overlook this. Elsewhere in the letter, he references Massachusetts law as applying, so it's not as though he's suggesting that some other jurisdiction outside the US applies. So, since Section 230 clearly applies, why would Charles Harder tell Diaspora that it is liable for these statements?

Separately, Harder's letter concludes with the following statement:

This letter and its contents are confidential, protected by copyright law, and not authorized for publication or dissemination.

This letter and its contents are confidential, protected by copyright law, and not authorized for publication or dissemination.

We look forward to your immediate response to this letter.

Very truly yours,

CHARLES J. HARDER Of
HARDER MIRELL & ABRAMS LLP

cc: Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai (via email)


We have seen similar statements on legal letters in the past and they have generally been considered meaningless, at best. On the question of confidentiality/authorization for publication, that's not how it works. The recipient of such a letter has no obligation to not disseminate it or to ask for authorization without any prior agreement along those lines. You can't magically declare something confidential and ban anyone from sharing it. Furthermore, this is especially true when dealing with legal threat letters. While many lawyers put such language into these letters to try to scare recipients (and avoid a Streisand Effect over the attempt to silence speech), they serve no purpose other than intimidation.

But the worst thing about your letter is the end: "Please be aware that this letter is copyrighted by our law firm, and you are not authorized to republish this in any manner. Use of this letter in a posting, in full or in part, will subject you to further legal causes of action." Such a posting would be fair use. Moreover, inquiry by my colleague Greg Beck produced the interesting information that the copyright in the letter has not been registered. Sadly, according to what you told him, you have been successful in this intimidation because none of your cease and desist letters has ever been posted.

There is always a first time. We are posting the letter on the Public Citizen web site (the letter can be found at http://www.citizen.org/documents/directbuycd.pdf) so the public can assess our differences by comparing your contentions with our responses. By this letter, we are inviting you to test the validity of your theory that the writer of a cease and desist letter can avoid public scrutiny by threatening to file a copyright law suit if his letter is disclosed publicly on the Internet.

-- Letter from Paul Levy to Donald Morris Dated October 5, 2007


Separately, claims of copyright in takedown or cease & desist letters, while they do show up occasionally, are also generally considered to be overstatements of the law. First off, there are questions raised about whether or not general cease & desist threat letters have enough creativity to get any kind of copyright, but, more importantly, even if there were copyright on such a letter it would be a clear and obvious fair use case to be able to share them and distribute them publicly, as part of an effort to discuss how one has been threatened with questionable legal arguments.

Either way, we believe that this fits a pattern of using legal threats and litigation to silence criticism of public figures. In an era when speaking truth to power is so important, we believe such actions need to be given attention, and need to be called out. We also think they demonstrate why we need much stronger anti-SLAPP laws, at both the state and federal level to protect people's right to speak out about public issues. If you agree, please call your elected representatives and ask them to support strong anti-SLAPP protections, like those found in the SPEAK FREE Act of 2015.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:56 am

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WHOM THE GODS WOULD DESTROY, THEY FIRST ADVISE TO CONSULT POPEHAT
by Tara Carreon
January 30, 2017
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:50 am

The Man Who Invented Email
By Doug Aamoth
techland.time.com
Nov. 15, 2011

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


If you’re reading this, you’re online and, as such, you probably have an email account. But have you ever wondered about the origins of email? It’s not exactly a cut-and-dried case, as various forms of electronic messaging have been around since the humble telegraph.

I had the opportunity to sit down with V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, who holds the first copyright for “EMAIL”—a system he began building in 1978 at just 14 years of age. It was modeled after the communication system being used at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. His task: replicate the University’s traditional mail system electronically.

And with that, email—as we currently know it—was born.

In 1981, Shiva took honors at the Westinghouse Science Awards for his “High Reliability, Network-Wide, Electronic Mail System” and attended MIT later that fall. The copyright for the term EMAIL was granted to Shiva in 1982, after which he won a White House competition for developing a system to automatically analyze and sort email messages. That technology eventually became the basis for EchoMail, a service used by several large businesses.

Here’s the interview:

Q. What’s the backstory of email? How did it all come together?

Shiva: It was purely out of the love of doing it. I was given this opportunity to just program, and this was in 1978 when you couldn’t get a programming job, per se—it was very, very early. I look back on that scene: Here’s a 14-year-old living in New Jersey, and the National Science Foundation put out a call saying they needed to educate the youth on computer programming.

There was a very interesting and visionary computer professor at NYU called Henry Mullish, who was at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, a very, very prestigious institute. So Henry basically said, “Okay, let’s get 40 high school students in an immersion program trained on seven different programming languages.” And I was one of those 40 selected.


Henry did this interesting thing: He basically taught us all these old programming languages—COBOL, SNOBOL, PL/I—for eight weeks, from June until the end of the summer. So I finished up, and my mom was working at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which is in Newark—my parents had just come from India five years before and my mom was a mathematician. She introduced me to this guy Les Michelson, who was your typical mad scientist—he had worked at Brookhaven National Labs as a particle physicist.

He was given a room to put his first computer in and start the lab for computer science, which was one computer and one HP mainframe. And Les said, “Hey, would you like to create an electronic mail system?” So I said, “Yeah,” and I was just nodding my head, thinking he meant sending electricity through paper, because this guy’s a particle physicist.

I came back the next day and he said, “Look, I want you to go observe how people send out mail.” Basically, each doctor had an office and the secretary typed the word “memorandum” followed by the “to:”, the “from:”, the subject line, the body, and then any carbon copies or attachments. And Michelson said, “Your job is to convert that into an electronic format. Nobody’s done that before.”


These guys I was working with were in their 50’s and 60’s, and they treated me as an equal. And I think that was a fascinating thing: Here’s a 14-year-old working among 60-year-olds, and it was like there was no difference. That’s why I think innovation takes place in America. In countries like India or China, a Steve Jobs will never come around. The fundamentals aren’t there—there’s this feudal hierarchy. So just in retrospect, I look back and these guys let me into this very collegial atmosphere.

Q. So the original system was set up for doctors to communicate electronically using the template they were already used to.

Shiva: Yeah. The way the University of Medicine and Dentistry was set up was that they had three locations—Newark, Piscataway, and New Brunswick. Within each building, they had those old tubes where you’d put the container in and it’d get shot around to the right place. And I just observed how these guys sent mail out. It was fascinating. The secretary would write something, she’d put the carbon copy—literally a carbon copy—in the container and send it out.

So in order to create a real email system, you needed a relational database and you needed to make it really easy. Even today, if you read a Forrester report, I think 15 or 16 percent of doctors still don’t use e-mail. We had to make a simple user interface: inbox, outbox, folders—those were literally replicas of how these guys communicated using physical mail.

And that’s what I ended up doing in ’78 and ’79. We did one of the early demos and wrote the user manual—all this stuff: training, tutorials—and a lot of it was the cultural piece. How do you get people to convert? Would the doctors use it or would the assistants use it?

I was planning on dropping out of high school because I was just very bored, and one of my teachers urged me not to drop out, telling me about this thing called the Westinghouse Science Contest—I think they call it the Intel Science Awards now. He told me I should apply for it, and the application was “a High Reliability, Network-Wide, Electronic Mail System.”

And so I ended up winning one of the honors awards out of that. It’s only then that I started realizing what the significance was. But when I really noticed it was when I came to MIT in 1981 and on the front page of the paper, they described three students out of the incoming class of a thousand, saying that one of the students designed the first electronic mail system.

Then later, I think it was ’81 or ’82, the RFC protocol was changed to add the “from:”, the “cc:”—those things. So that was an afterthought. But when I refer to electronic mail, it’s literally the conversion of this paper mail into electronic mail. And people still don’t get that definition, so that’s why there’s this confusion. They think it was text messaging, so Facebook or any of these other platforms are going to replace it, right?


Q. Ray Tomlinson is often credited as the inventor of email. Is he credited correctly, in your opinion, or should he be credited for something else?

Shiva: I think that’s the thing that’s sort of resulted in this confusion. Since ’94, people have always said something’s going to kill e-mail—and the latest was text messaging, right? Ray and Tom Van Vleck really did text messaging. In fact, in one of Tom’s early communications he says his boss wouldn’t let him do electronic letters internally, which is actually the mail piece of it. So they were more focused from a messaging standpoint: How do you get a message from point A to point B to manipulate another machine at that more core level?

“The idea of sending ‘letters’ using [the Compatible Time-Sharing System] was resisted by management, as a waste of resources.”
-- Van Vleck, 2001


Q. Where did blind carbon copying come from? Was it a function the doctors were using?

Shiva: Yes, they used to call it “BCC”. Michelson would do this. If he wanted to spread a message, he would “CC” it. If he wanted to let his boss know but he didn’t want other people to know because of certain office politics, he would “BCC” it.


Q. So those functions were in place.

Shiva: Yes, those things were present in the actual office mail systems. That’s what I did. That was “electronic mail,” with the emphasis on the word “mail”—it should really be lowercase E.

Q. It sounds like the system we use today hasn’t changed all that much.

Shiva: Exactly, because the fundamentals of the system came from interoffice mail, which went through decades and decades of development. There’s still the “to:”, the “from:”, the “cc:”, the subject line, the body and the attachments. Attachments were originally called enclosures, because in the physical mail system they’d type “encl.” followed by the enclosure.


Q. Are there parts of email you think could be improved now?

Shiva: I think one of the interesting areas is going to be—and Google+ is sort of doing this—verification of who you are. That security piece. Email marketing firms and some of the large non-profits have set up this thing called Sender ID, so they’ve done it at the IP level—at the server level.

And for video, I think there’s going to be ways that when you produce your email, you’ll be able to produce videos easier. Those are just links and attachments now.

But email, I think, is a mainstay because it’s still a part of that old interoffice mail communication. It has certain properties that are very different than what you do with Twitter or those kinds of media. It’s almost like there’s a kind of operating system of electronic messaging, and above that are these apps. Email is a fundamental application. Twitter is an application because of the way the medium is used for that.

So how is electronic mail going to change? It’s going to really find what it was originally for: business communications, letters—those kinds of things. And then I think you’re going to see this segmentation: quick messaging, colloquial messaging—that’ll be done through text messaging and those kinds of things.


Q. What are your thoughts about the future of email as it pertains to the U.S. Postal Service?

Shiva: In 1997, after I’d started EchoMail, I met with the Postal Service because I could clearly see that the Postal Service needed to be involved in email because there was this whole trust issue.

When we used to go to large companies, they were getting inbound email that they needed to manage—especially on the outbound side. There’s the whole thing with sender verification and spam, and the Postal Service had this huge opportunity right there. I’ve always felt that, even today, the Postal Service has a huge opportunity.

One example is that on the inbound side, many small businesses and mid-market businesses still get inbound email. And even if it’s a low amount of email, if you don’t respond, there’s an 85 percent chance that you could lose your customer. And many of them don’t know how to do it.

If you think about what the Postal Service fundamentally does, those guys are trained to get mail and sort mail—there’s trust verification. The Postal Service could offer at least level-one or level-two support, where a company could say, “Sort my email for me and put it into the right buckets.” Because that’s what most people deal with—the sales leads, the junk, and those kinds of things. Some of it can be automated, but there’s other areas where you can do that sort of semi-automatic piece. And what’s happened in the U.S. now is that companies put in an infrastructure like EchoMail, which does that sorting, and then they have humans that do the second-level review. And most of those humans are overseas.

So companies essentially set up internal email post offices to do that function, and I think that’s a function the Postal Service could offer because you have that trust. It’s a very interesting security issue. You currently have people 10,000 miles away handling all sorts of very, very serious and personal information.

And on the outbound side, the Postal Service now wants to implement this thing called eMailbox, which would take your physical address and associate it with an email address to get all your bills and everything.
I like the concept, particularly if you look at email from a legal standpoint. In the U.K. now, you can serve someone through email thanks to a recent court ruling. So I think it opens up all these other things that are sort of in this gray area, since email is currently not associated with a physical address.

Q. Yeah, I currently scan most of my mail just because I want an electronic version of it. It’d be nice to have that done right at the post office level so if I went on vacation, for instance, I wouldn’t have to worry about my mailbox filling up.

Shiva: So that service—they should have done that back in ’97. When I met with them, the goal was, “Well, we’re a $50 billion company. Yeah, email’s there but it’s not that interesting.”

But I think it comes down to that issue that people don’t understand what electronic mail is. It’s this electrification of letters—it’s not just messaging.


Q. Do you think email is killing the Postal Service?

Shiva: There are various factors in the postal system. It’s a large organization and they have some of these policy issues, right? But I think, fundamentally, when you look at the Postal Service, it was literally set up at the time of the inception of the United States. It’s that old—it’s very aligned to democracy. But if you look at Benjamin Franklin, the guy’s an amazing innovator. He set up the logistics of how this thing would work—the different services, the delivery times—the guy was phenomenal.

Fast-forward to 1997 and you see this explosive growth in email. And what do these guys do? They basically didn’t do anything innovative. They basically sort of made tweaks. And even now after this whole eMailbox thing was proposed, their stance is, “Well maybe we should look into it in the future.” So there’s this fundamental lack of commitment to innovation.

It’s a large organization still making revenue. The fact is that because that revenue’s dropping and because email volume’s grown—I think by 60 percent or so—the volume of billing has been taken over by email. So what used to be bills, 60 to 70 percent is now email.

And I think segment by segment, that’s going to occur. So I think that if the Postal Service doesn’t get on board quickly and start offering some of these electronic services, their solution is going to be the standard financial application—lay people off and close branches.


In fact, the former head of the union had written several memos saying the Postal Service should start using the electronic medium, but I think the management fundamentally still views itself as, “We’re Walmart. We’ve got 500,000 people. We have this core business. How do we tweak it with first-class mail?” Those kinds of issues. They’re starting to awaken a little bit, but I think that unless they take a fundamentally innovative approach, they’re going to have problems.

Q. What’s the solution?

Shiva: The solution right now is to lay off 100,000 people. But those 100,000 people—if you think about the mentality they’ve been trained in—have the discipline, by and large, where you could put them on an electronic frontend and have them do electronic services like email sorting.

And the number of companies in the U.S. that need that right now is desperate. There’s a Jupiter report saying 67 percent of companies still don’t manage their inbound mail well. And managing email isn’t an area where you can train people quickly.

The issue is that companies—even large companies—think of email as phone calls. There’s still this lack of understanding about what email is, so they’ll say, “I’m going to take some phone guys and have them answer email for me.” But it’s a different activity. Answering phones synchronously is very different than reading an email, sorting it, figuring out which bucket it goes in, and then responding.


So I think the Postal Service has this huge opportunity. They could use those 100,000 workers and it’s not that much training. U.S. companies do it in 90 days now. They get people who barely speak English, and they train them to sort and process email, and they charge on a per-unit basis. The Postal Service already has physical real estate. They could put terminals in there and offer those services to local businesses, and just brand it as “You have your email. We’ll process it for you and we’ll tell you what your sales leads are.”

Q. So the argument about not wanting the post office reading your email…

Shiva: Somebody’s already reading your email, in this instance. Who’s reading your email? You currently have temporary workers coming in and out. Mid-market companies are outsourcing to a call center, which outsources to the Philippines or India. You already have that going on.

I don’t want to be jingoistic, but this economy has problems. Why are we laying off 100,000 people? It’s absolutely insane, when these people are trained in processing mail. You can move them to the email platform. There’s a huge need.

Q. Same basic sorting process.

Shiva: Same basic sorting process. If Franklin was around, he would have done email. The protocols that he had to put in place—he had to set up individual nodes, set up delivery times, there’s a security issue and there’s the issue of how fast you respond.

This is all the stuff companies face. Companies have service levels now. If you send an email, the company should respond within four hours. Most companies don’t respond within two days. It’s perfect for the Postal Service. It’s a mind-shift for them to think, “Why are we sorting other people’s electronic mail?” But it’s basically taking a trusted service and moving it online.

And I did a calculation: I think they could easily generate $6 billion in revenue. To process an email usually costs around $2 to $3—that’s what outside companies charge now for a small volume of messages once you work in all the overhead. Obviously if you can do more volume, it costs less, and the Postal Service can do it for less because they have so many people. It’s just a killer service that’s waiting there.

Q. What’s the end result? Certain mail gets put in certain folders?

Shiva: Certain folders and you can choose certain responses. You can have your email sorted into various buckets, or you can have the response selected and ready to go. So they could offer two levels of service. One is that they’d prepare a response that you could approve. The other is that if you trust them, they could just send the response out.

If it’s someone asking a billing question that could be handled without intervention: great. Otherwise it could be escalated. This is being done right now by call centers. I don’t believe there’s enough security there—I’ve been in enough of them. They have a 70 percent turnover rate in call centers. I don’t think the Postal Service has that high of a turnover rate.

Similarly, the Postal Service already does a lot of direct marketing. So they could own the direct marketing channel, too, and do more of the verification piece.

Q. So the big issue is getting the Postal Service on board with services like this.

Shiva: Yeah, I think the Postal Service still has an opportunity but the issue is what’s going to incentivize them to do it. I think there’s a lot of thrust to just cut jobs and follow this very mundane economic approach versus being innovative. It’s pretty sad when you really think about the number of people they have trained just sitting there.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:58 am

Who Invented Email? Just Ask … Noam Chomsky
by Caleb Garling
June 16, 2012

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


WHO INVENTED EMAIL? That’s a question sure to spark some debate. And where there’s debate, the appearance of Noam Chomsky should come as no surprise.

This week, Chomsky — the professor emeritus of linguistics and philosophy at MIT who’s known as much for his criticism of US foreign policy and capitalism as much as his academic work — unexpectedly joined the debate over the origins of email, putting his weight behind V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, a man who claims he invented email as in 1978 at the age of 14 while working at a medical and dentistry university in New Jersey.

Today, Ayyadurai is a lecturer at MIT, and he once studied with Chomsky. But Chomsky says he backs Ayyadurai’s claims for reasons of, yes, semantics.

“Email, upper case, lower case, any case, is the electronic version of the interoffice, inter-organizational mail system, the email we all experience today — and email was invented in 1978 by a 14-year-old working in Newark, NJ. The facts are indisputable,” reads a statement from Chomsky that fired across the internet in a press release from Ayyadurai.


Yes, by 1978, people were already sending electronic messages across computer networks, but Ayyadurai says he was the first person to build a software program called “email” — and that he was the first to structure electronic communications in a way that mirrored methods traditionally used to move paper mail through an office, setting up electronic “inboxes” and “outboxes” and “address books.”

In February, after some documentation supporting Ayyadurai’s claims was accepted by the Smithsonian, The Washington Post ran a long profile of the MIT lecturer, describing him as the father of email. But after many objected to his claims, the paper published a mammoth correction, casting considerable doubt over Ayyadurai’s place in the history of email.

Some trace email all the way back to the mid-’60s and MIT’s Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS). Originally, CTSS let users remotely log into a single MIT computer and store files to discs where they could be accessed by others, and then in 1961, Tom Van Vleck developed a “mail” command that let users send electronic messages to other users of the system.

But some argue that this wasn’t really email because the messages never left a single machine, that they didn’t really go across a network. They say true email arrived several years later on the ARPAnet, the research network funded by the US Department of Defense that would eventually give rise to the internet. In 1971, a man named Ray Tomlinson built a messaging system atop the ARPAnet that sent electronic messages between machines.

“There seems to be little disagreement over who wrote what, and approximately when,” Van Vleck tells Wired. “The argument is over what to call things.”


Chomsky joined the argument on Tuesday. “What continue[s] to be deplorable are the childish tantrums of industry insiders who now believe that by creating confusion on the case of ’email,’ they can distract attention from the facts,” his statement continues.

Chomsky’s argument is that Ayyadurai received a formal copyright registration on his email program in 1982, and that in 1977, David Crocker — who worked on the ARPAnet and has criticized Ayyadurai’s claims — wrote that “no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system.”

“Given the term email was not used prior to 1978, and there was no intention to emulate ‘… a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system,” as late as December 1977, there is no controversy here, except the one created by industry insiders, who have a vested interest,” Chomsky says.


Reached by, yes, email, Chomsky confirms that he is putting his weight behind Ayyadurai’s claims. “What I found out seemed to confirm his story,” Chomsky tells Wired. “I read his documentation, the counterarguments, his responses, and his position seemed to me plausible.”

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Proof, VA Shiva Ayyadurai says, of his invention of email. Photo: http://www.inventorofemail.com

But the debate will no doubt continue.

Ayyadurai says that his invention was quite different than anything that came before — that email is the electronic version of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper-based mail system. He carefully emphasizes that last word. The predecessors to his creation, he contends, were less organized, much simpler messaging systems. His system, he says, was the first to use the concepts that we recognize in modern tools like Outlook and Gmail.

Speaking with Wired, he points out that you could call the telegraph a form of email as well.

In addition to soliciting the backing of Chomsky, Ayyadurai has enlisted the help of his old boss the University of Medical and Dentistry of New Jersey, Leslie Michelson, and he has set up a website to support his claims: http://www.inventorofemail.com.

Why is he fighting so hard to stake his claim? “I want to be clear,” Ayyadurai tells Wired. “The intention of my sharing the facts was not about getting name and money for the invention of email, but to share what I thought was an inspiring message that even something as grand as email, could get created under the right conditions. What was unfortunate was the reaction.”

Additional reporting by Robert McMillan
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:00 am

Inventor Of Email, Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, Sues Gawker Media
Harder Mirell & Abrams LLP
May 10, 2016

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai filed suit today in the U.S. District Court in Boston, Massachusetts against Gawker Media LLC, its writer Sam Biddle, its editor John Cook, and its founder/CEO Nick Denton.

Dr. Ayyadurai is a world-renowned scientist, inventor, philanthropist and entrepreneur. He holds four degrees from MIT, including a Ph.D.

In 1978, Dr. Ayyadurai invented email: the electronic mail system as we know it today. In 1982, the United States Copyright Office granted Dr. Ayyadurai the first U.S. Copyright for "email," in which his authorship included that he "created and wrote entire text of the computer program." At that time, copyright law was the only way to protect software inventions because it was not until 1994 that the U.S. Courts ruled that computer programs were patentable as the equivalent of a "digital machine."

On November 15, 2011, TIME magazine published an article titled "The Man Who Invented Email," which profiled Dr. Ayyadurai and his invention. In June 2012, Wired magazine reported that "the email we all experience today, was invented in 1978 by [Dr. Ayyadurai] .... The facts are indisputable." In July 2015, CBS reported: "Next time your fingers hit the keyboard to write a quick email, you might want to say, thank you to Shiva Ayyadurai .... Because he is credited with inventing email ... in the late 1970s."

Gawker Media, LLC published on two of its blog sites (Gawker and Gizmodo) in 2012-2014, several false and defamatory statements about Dr. Ayyadurai, including calling him a "fraud," a "liar" and a "fake." These demonstrably false statements have caused long term harm to Dr. Ayyadurai's personal and professional reputation and career. Dr. Ayyadurai seeks a prominent retraction, apology, and damages.

Dr. Ayyadurai currently serves as Chairman & CEO of CytoSolve, Inc., a company revolutionizing health through its breakthrough technology, which eliminates the need for animal testing. Recently, CytoSolve discovered a multi-combination drug for pancreatic cancer, receiving FDA allowance to clinical trials, and has uncovered safety assessment issues concerning GMOs.

Dr. Ayyadurai is represented by attorneys Charles Harder of Harder Mirell & Abrams LLP in Los Angeles, California and Timothy Cornell of Cornell Dolan, PC in Boston, Massachusetts.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

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The Boy Who Invented Email
Honoring the Spirit of Innovation on The Anniversary of Email
by Lawrence E. Weber

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


The First Article in The History of Email Series

In 1978, a 14-year-old boy invented email.

He created a computer program, which he named “email”, that replicated all the functions of the interoffice mail system: Inbox, Outbox, Folders, Memo, Attachments, Address Book, etc., the now familiar parts of every email system.

Image
Picture of 14-year-old V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai shown with "email" computer program code, from 1978, in the background.

On August 30, 1982, the US government officially recognized V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai as the inventor of email by awarding him the first US Copyright for “Email”, “Computer Program for Electronic Mail System,” for his 1978 invention. This was awarded at a time when Copyright was the only way to protect software inventions.

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Official US Copyright Notice for “Email” Issued on August 30, 1982, now, in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History (NMAH).

Email, however, emerged from somewhat unlikely circumstances. Email wasn’t created, with a massive research budget, in big institutions like the ARPANET, MIT or the military. Such institutions had thought it “impossible” to create such a system, believing it far too complex.

Shiva was given something that big institutions, however, may have found hard to provide: an ecosystem of loving parents, a wonderful mentor, dedicated teachers and a collegial environment where he was treated as an equal though his colleagues were 20 to 40 years older.


In that ecosystem, Shiva thrived, and the world got email.

An Ecosystem of Love, Caring and Community

That ecosystem of love, caring and community allowed his creativity to blossom. History shows that such ecosystems are ultimately the source from which innovations can continually emerge in a healthy and sustainable manner.

When Shiva was accepted to a special program at New York University (NYU) to study computer science, for example, his mother and a neighbor took turns driving him at 5 AM to Newark’s Penn Station, from where Shiva took the train to NYU.

After finishing the NYU program, another family friend, Martin Feuerman took the initiative to introduce Shiva to Dr. Leslie P. Michelson, then Director of the Laboratory Computer Network (LCN) at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). Shiva’s talent, passion and commitment immediately impressed Dr. Michelson, and he offered Shiva a position as a Research Scholar, and gave him a challenge: to convert the old system of paper-based mail communications used at UMDNJ to an electronic one.

Before Shiva could take on this challenge, he needed approval from his high school. A 14-year-old student traveling thirty miles to Newark, in the middle of school hours, was unprecedented.

But a dedicated teacher, Stella Oleksiak, became Shiva’s advocate. She negotiated with the principal and school administrators at Livingston High School, and convinced them that Shiva was responsible and given this opportunity, he would make an important contribution. The school’s administration acquiesced, and allowed Shiva to travel to Newark, during school hours, to start the project.

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Shiva with mentor Dr. Leslie P. Michelson (second from left) and Independent Study teacher Stella Oleksiak (third from left), who convinced school officials to amend rules so Shiva could work in Newark.

The Interoffice Mail System

Shiva began the project at UMDNJ by closely observing the system of operations for transporting mail. He observed how each secretary, using their typewriter, created the interoffice memorandum or “memo” with its “To:”, “From:”, “Subject:”, “Date:”, “Body:”, “Cc:”, “Bcc:” fields, and sometimes paper-clipped Attachments.

Image
An example of the Interoffice Memo.

The memo was then placed in an interdepartmental envelope. The interdepartmental envelope had a red string that one used to close the envelope. The name of the recipient was listed on the envelope’s cover. The envelope was then placed in a pneumatic tube container.

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Interdepartmental Envelope.

The pneumatic tube container was used to transport the “cargo” of the interoffice memo and any attachments, to its destination, across a complex system of pneumatic tubes that connected the offices.

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The interdepartmental mail envelope was placed in a pneumatic tube container for transport from office to office.

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Pneumatic tube system, similar to one at UMDNJ, used to transport interoffice mail across offices.

Shiva also observed that the desktop of each secretary, in addition to the typewriter, had an Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Carbon Copy Paper, Folders, Address Book, Paper Clips (for attachments), etc., which they used each day to create and process incoming and outgoing mail.

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The typical desktop of a secretary that Shiva observed in 1970s at UMDNJ.

This complex system of office-to-office communications was the interoffice mail system. This system was not unique to UMDNJ but used in nearly every office including those of presidents and prime ministers.

Email is the Electronic Version of the Interoffice Mail System

Shiva conceived an electronic version of this system. He created a computer program of over 50,000 lines of code, which electronically replicated all the features of the interoffice mail system. Shiva then needed to name his computer program.

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First page of the computer program showing Shiva’s naming the program “email”, thus defining email to be the electronic interoffice mail system.

The FORTRAN programming language, the language in which Shiva coded his computer program, required all names to be in upper case and the operating system imposed a five-character limit on program names. Given these limitations, he created the word “EMAIL” to name his program, a term never used before in the English language.

At the time of email’s invention, the US government didn’t even have laws to protect the intellectual property rights of inventors of software programs. The Copyright Act of 1976 only protected music and literary works. In 1980, this Act was amended to protect software inventions.

Shiva submitted an application in 1981 to the US Copyright Office along with copies of his email computer code and the User’s Manual to the Library of Congress. By submitting his code and the manual, he made his work publicly available to all. It is therefore no coincidence that other email programs, one after the other, from Eudora, to Lotus Notes to Outlook, emerge after 1982, as the infographic shows.


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Infographic of the History of Email.

This is not to say that someone would not have created an electronic version of the interoffice mail system, perhaps even calling it something else, at some point in history; but the facts are that a 14-year-old boy, working in Newark, NJ, was the first to do it, the first to call it “email”, and the first to receive official recognition, for the invention, by the US government.

Prior to 1978, experts and electronic messaging researchers at big institutions, including members of the ARPANET team, thought it “impossible” to create such an electronic inter-organizational mail system. The seminal RAND report, written by David Crocker, a leading ARPANET electronic messaging researcher, makes this unequivocally clear.

Shiva Did What Others Thought Impossible

In December of 1977, Mr. Crocker wrote:

"At this time, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system. The fact that the system is intended for use in various organizational contexts and by users of differing expertise makes it almost impossible to build a system which responds to all users' needs."
— Crocker, David. Framework and Function of the "MS" Personal Message System. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, December 1977.


Since the system is to be used for communication which is exemplified in older and heavily-exercised technology, it is assumed that users have an extensive conceptual model of the communication domain. It is further assumed that a system which performs in ways which deviate from that model will be viewed as "idiosyncratic" and impeding the efforts of the user. Problems occurring during this sort of interaction can be expected to be as irritating as having a pen which leaks or a typewriter with keys that jam. Therefore, a major design goal for MS is to provide an integrated set of necessary and sufficient functions which conform to the target user's cognitive model of a regular office-memo system. At this stage, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale inter-organization mail system....

The level of the MS project effort has also had a major effect upon the system's design. To construct a fully-detailed and monolithic message processing environment requires a much larger effort than has been possible with MS. In addition, the fact that the system is intended for use in various organizational contexts and by users of differing expertise makes it almost impossible to build a system which responds to users' needs. Consequently, important segments of a full message environment have received little or no attention and decisions have been made with the expectation that other Unix capabilities will be used to augment MS. For example, MS has fairly primitive data-base management (i.e., filing and cataloging) facilities and message folders have been implemented in a way which allows them to be modified by programs, such as text editors, which access them directly, rather than through the message system.

-- Framework and Functions of the "MS" Personal Message System: A Report prepared for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, by David H. Crocker


This report was written just a few months before Shiva began his project at UMDNJ.

The big institutions such as the ARPANET, MIT and the military had decided not to even attempt to create an electronic replica of the interoffice mail system. They chose to focus on the simple exchange of text messages between devices, dating back to the lineage of the Morse Code telegraph of the 1800s. Their efforts were the precursors to what we know today as Texting, Chat, and Twitter, the simple exchange of short messages, but certainly not email.

Shiva, however, had a singular focus to create a “full-scale inter-organizational mail system” in order to make the lives of office workers easier. He took into consideration human factors: the system had to be easy-to-use. He created a simple user interface so secretaries, doctors, students, and staff could easily migrate from the typewriter to the keyboard. His system did not need the Internet or ARPANET, but ran on the Wide Area Network (WAN) and Local Area Network (LAN), already in place at UMDNJ.

In 1981, Shiva received a Westinghouse Science Talent Search Honors Award, known as the “Baby Nobels” for his invention.
In his Westinghouse application, the young teenager had a remarkable prescience on the future of email. He wrote in the conclusion of his application:

“One day, electronic mail, like Edison’s bulb, may also permeate and pervade our lives. It’s practical applications are unlimited. Not only is mail sent electronically, as many telexes and teletypes are capable of doing, but it offers a computational service that automates a secretary’s or file clerk’s work of writing a memorandum, document or letter, editing, filing, and retrieving. If electronic mail systems become a reality, they will surely create different patterns of communication, attitudes, and styles. Volumes of written work, for example, shall become obsolete.”
-- V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, 1981


The 14-year-old boy’s predictions on email all have come true.

Shiva’s example demonstrates that we cannot underestimate the creativity and wisdom of our young people. Nearly 25% of the world’s population is less than the age of 14, and about 50% are below the age of 25.

Image
Excerpt from Westinghouse Science Awards Application, Shiva predicting the future of email. Click on image to download a PDF of the Shiva's Westinghouse Science Awards application.

The World Needs More "Shiva's" and "Philo's"

Jim Clifton of the Gallup Organization, in his book the Jobs War, has concluded that the world needs to create 3.2 billion new jobs within the next 10 years. The current models of innovation rely on massive amounts of capital flowing to a few centers of innovation in major cities, big companies, large universities and the military. However, according to Clifton, these current models for innovation will only create 1.4 billion new jobs.

There is a 1.8 billion new job deficit! Where will these jobs come from?

The recent uprisings across the world may likely be attributed to youth feeling distressed and having little hope for jobs and a future where they can flourish. The journey of that 14-year-old boy working in Newark, NJ reveals an inspiring and alternate model for innovation.

Such models may appear as some brilliant exception, because media simply neither highlight nor report accurately such examples, as a rule.

Philo Farnsworth, for example, conceived TV, also as a 14-year-old child, in 1930, working in his home laboratory, in the small farming town of Franklin, Idaho. Like Shiva, Philo had that same ecosystem of loving parents, a wonderful mentor, and a supportive community.

However, it took many decades for the world to even know this fact, and that too, long after he died. Vested interests, for many decades, reacted and worked hard to hide the facts of Philo being the inventor of television; and such vested interests, also reacted in a similar manner, after news of the Smithsonian’s acquisition of Shiva’s code, papers and artifacts, on February 16, 2012, documenting his invention of email.


Is it so hard for us to believe that brilliant innovations such as email and television can emerge in healthy and sustainable ecosystems beyond the bastions of big universities, large companies and the military?

Modern media has an incredible opportunity to share such facts in a timely manner based on reviewing primary sources, and moving beyond simply accepting the word of “experts”, and the propensity to copy and paste from Wikipedia. Factual reporting of other “Shiva’s” and “Philo’s” is more than just good journalism, but one that can give hope to the emerging 3.5 billion young people, below the age of 25 who deserve accurate narratives on the infinite possibilities for creativity and innovation.

We welcome you to the History of Email Series, and invite you to celebrate the Anniversary of Email, August 30th, and unleash the spirit of innovation!

About Lawrence E. Weber

Image

Larry Weber is the Chairman & CEO of Racepoint Global (http://www.racepointglobal.com), an advanced marketing services agency, world-renowned expert in media and best-selling author. Passionate about the convergence of technology and communications, he is a frequent public speaker on the future of marketing, the social web and building communities online. Larry enjoys helping global brands and emerging companies harness social media strategies to enhance brand reputation, create and extend partnerships, and increase demand generation. He founded one of the industry's first interactive marketing agencies, Thunderhouse, and has worked with world-class clients including ARM, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Cook Medical, General Electric, General Motors, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft, and many more.

Larry serves on a number of Boards of corporations, non-profit organizations and academic institutions. He is the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX),the world's largest Internet marketing association. Larry has authored four business and marketing books, including The Provocateur: How a New Generation of Leaders Are Building Communities, Not Just Companies (Random House/Crown Business, 2002), business bestseller Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business (Wiley & Sons, 2007, with a second edition in 2009), Sticks & Stones: How Digital Business Reputations Are Created Over Time...And Lost in a Click (Wiley & Sons, 2009), and Everywhere: Comprehensive Digital Business Strategy for the Social Media Era (Wiley & Sons, 2011). Larry's newest book, The Digital Marketer: Ten New Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric, is due out in Spring 2014.
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The Invention of Email
by Leslie P. Michelson, Ph.D.

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Nearly 35 years have passed since V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai invented email in our Laboratory in 1978. Shiva was a 14-year-old student then, and today he is an accomplished inventor, scientist and entrepreneur, who has continued to innovate many things beyond email, providing thousands of jobs across the world.

In September of 2013, Shiva returned back to our Lab, still located in the same place, at 185 South Orange Avenue, Building C, Room 631 in Newark, New Jersey. It was there, in that Lab, that he conceived, designed and invented email, the email that we all experience today.

Image
V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai: 14-year-old (left) and 50-year-old (right).

When Shiva visited us in September of 2013, it was to announce, along with a representative from the Office of the Mayor of Newark, that he was launching Innovation Corps, a foundation to identify, recognize, mentor and support young people, between the ages to 14-18, who wanted to innovate things, small and large, perhaps creations even bigger than email.

In 1978, we were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Shiva. I was Shiva’s supervisor at the time. Today, we are pleased to share this Series on the History of Email to commemorate the August 30th Anniversary of Email.

I’m honored to be part of this Series, and to have the opportunity to share my experience for various reasons.

First, I hope to offer the reader a chance to hear from the proverbial “horse’s mouth” that, “Yes!” a 14-year-old boy, in 1978, did create a computer program that was the first electronic replication of the interoffice mail system (Inbox, Outbox, Folders, Memo, Attachments, Address Book, etc.), which he named “email’, the world’s first email system.

Email, the name of the software program he created, was more than just a simple “program” but a complete system --- it was the electronic interoffice, inter-organizational mail system, the first of its kind, an integrated platform that provided all the recognizable elements of the email, we all know and use today.

My second reason for writing this article is to offer an appreciation of the ecosystem and environment, in which the invention of email took place at UMDNJ, particularly in light of the events that occurred immediately following the Smithsonian Institution’s acquisition, on February 16, 2012, of Shiva’s computer code, artifacts and papers.

A vocal minority of industry insiders, who had profited directly and indirectly from falsification of email’s history for many decades, carried on a campaign of character assassination following the Smithsonian news. They even bullied journalists and editors, who shared the facts and wrote favorably about Shiva, in order to protect their economic interests. From my observation, what really incited these individuals was that the invention of email, in Newark, NJ, was shattering false narratives on when, where and by whom, innovation could take place.

My third reason, perhaps the more important one, is to share, what I believe is, a much larger truth - that innovation, even as important as email, can occur anywhere, even by a 14-year-old boy, in Newark, New Jersey, if the right structure and resources are provided.

Let us begin by providing you a background to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and our relationship with it.

UMDNJ in 1978

In 1975 the IT department of UMDNJ, then officially known as the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, hired me, an experimental high energy physicist from Brookhaven National Laboratories, who had some general scientific computing experience and an interest in using minicomputers, the small computers of the time, to control and acquire data from laboratory experiments.

In 1978, UMDNJ, was a young organization, and prior to its establishment as a university of the Health Sciences in December of 1981, it was (and still is) a free-standing public institution comprising several medical schools, a dental school, school for the health related professions and a graduate school of the biomedical sciences. Absent were the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Rather, UMDNJ focused exclusively on clinical and basic biomedical research and healthcare. Having been signed into law in 1970 and comprised of the former Rutgers Medical School and the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry, UMDNJ was establishing itself as a major academic health sciences institution.

The IT department at the time, although small, included a scientific data processing group. The group was populated with several biostatisticians and mainframe computer experts. The staff interacted with faculty from numerous departments both in the clinical and basic sciences and became quite adept at introducing machine computation to life scientists, who, given their backgrounds and given the time period had little experience in using computers. Our main local computing device, an IBM remote job entry terminal, was connected to remote batch and time sharing machines operated by an educational consortium known as the New Jersey Educational Computer Network.

Minicomputers made by Digital Equipment Corporation, Data General, Hewlett Packard and others were in fairly widespread use by 1975. They were used with growing frequency in disciplines ranging from nuclear physics to neuroscience. Medical equipment manufacturers were beginning to incorporate them as control and analysis elements in a new device called CAT Scan and they would soon give rise to a new generation of diagnostic instrumentation in which the rate of data acquisition and manipulation mandated the use compact computing hardware built into or adjacent to the instrument.

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UMDNJ in 1978

We were connecting minicomputers directly to laboratory equipment to automate data collection and effect control systems in which real time analysis could influence the generation of electrical stimulus thereby helping to guide the progress of neurophysiological lab experiments. Other life sciences disciplines were similarly suited to this kind of automation.

Although vastly less costly than mainframes, minicomputers were not inexpensive. Furthermore, we had several campuses on which to distribute the minicomputer resources including Newark, Piscataway and New Brunswick. These challenges led to the development of a network we called the LCN for Laboratory Computer Network, where more capable minicomputers were connected to one another and to smaller laboratory machines we called satellite nodes. The satellite nodes, more often than not, lacked a mass storage device -- they were very expensive at the time -- and depended on the larger nodes to boot their operating systems and applications.

Creating Ecosystem for Innovation

Today, there is a lot of effort underway to create innovation hubs or innovation centers. Our group at UMDNJ, far more modest in retrospect, provided an emerging ecosystem and environment for such innovation. We had the basic infrastructure, and above all were able to attract smart and dedicated people, curious and passionate, who wanted to explore new platforms. Though we ran the scientific data processing organization at UMDNJ, in a medical college in the late 1970s, it was frankly an unusual place to find the kind of experimentation that would lead to automation advances such as email that would change the way an important human-to-human communication paradigm would be mediated.

Our computer hardware infrastructure at the time comprised mainframes, minicomputers and microcomputers. The microcomputer, while an exciting and clearly promising architecture, was mainly seen in industrial controllers and as a part of larger computer components. The microcomputer had also become an obsession for many computer hobbyists. The IBM PC and subsequent wide spread adoption of desktop computing was still a few years away. Standardized networks as envisioned by the National Science Foundation’s NSFnet and its commercial successor, the Internet, were almost a decade away.

The predominant use of computers at the time was administrative business processing, scientific calculation and machine-aided design for engineering problems. However, while the role of computation in the broader context of human endeavor would lie in the distance, our hope was to explore such areas. So, we were open to finding others who wanted to participate in such exploration.

We had resources, space, a network and computing power.

Our team included the late Phil Goldstein who was an early innovator in the educational use of time-sharing systems; Robert Field, a database programmer; and Marilyn Bodow and Tina Brezenoff, statistical programmers in our group, who were looking to provide better interfaces for broader use of statistics packages. Dave Ritacco, a wunderkind studying engineering at the Stevens Technical Institute, also began working with us to develop user interfaces for graphics systems, predecessor to modern day presentation graphics.


It was in this environment that we met Shiva.

The Creation of Email

In 1978, a colleague, Martin Feuerman, from our parent IT organization approached us to ask if we would spend some time with Shiva, a 14-year-old high school student from Livingston New Jersey. Meenakshi Ayyadurai, Shiva’s mother, told me that her son had just completed a special program in computer programming at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University (NYU) for young persons who had demonstrated significant promise in mathematics. Our willingness to talk to Shiva, unfolded into an exciting diversion from the major focus of our work.

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Leslie P. Michelson (left) and V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai (right).

By the time Shiva joined the LCN as a high school Research Scholar, a few of us were beginning to ponder the role minicomputers might play in the larger space of human interaction. We were obviously familiar with the nature of the simple interactivity between humans and machines -- after all, much of the software we developed to manage lab experiments required interactivity if an investigator was to be in the loop of experimental input and resultant response. We were also familiar with the methods and protocols by which computers could exchange messages with other similar types of computers. Our minicomputers, manufactured by the Hewlett Packard Corporation, were provisioned with subsystems that supported this type of communication. Human interaction was mediated through teletypewriters and relatively primitive CRT-based display devices.

The age-honored interoffice memorandum, the “memo”, the primary modality of written human-human communication in the workplace was widely used at UMDNJ as it was everywhere else. The memo, regardless of the method of transport and retrieval has the general properties of one-to-one or one-to-many distribution and is easily filed to keep a record of a particular human discourse. In 1978, as in decades earlier, the memorandum was delivered by hand or in the case of a campus or group of campuses, placed in a mailer and transported by an interoffice/ inter-organizational/ campus/ intercampus paper mail process, that including pneumatic tubes.

It did not take long to recognize that Shiva was an exceptional student and to determine that we could challenge him in extraordinary ways. Although beyond the scope of our responsibility, we were eager to explore the use of small computers outside of the space of numerical calculation and experiment control. The notion of automating the entire interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail process to create a system was appealing for several reasons: It was a ubiquitous process, the mechanics of which, at least superficially, could be understood by anyone; the advantage of automation was obvious in that it would be possible to significantly collapse the time frame of transactions; and there were multiple ways in which electronic automation could extend the utility of the memorandum.

As far as we knew, no one else in 1978 had attempted to take on such a task.


In fact, recently, we discovered historical documents, including the famous RAND report written by David Crocker, which clearly stated that ARPANET researchers thought it “impossible” and did not even “attempt” to take on such a task. In the December 1977, RAND report, Mr. Crocker stated:

"At this time, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system [p.4]…. The fact that the system is intended for use in various organizational contexts and by users of differing expertise makes it almost impossible to build a system which responds to all users' needs. [p.7]”
— Crocker, David. Framework and Function of the "MS" Personal Message System. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, December 1977.


Since the system is to be used for communication which is exemplified in older and heavily-exercised technology, it is assumed that users have an extensive conceptual model of the communication domain. It is further assumed that a system which performs in ways which deviate from that model will be viewed as "idiosyncratic" and impeding the efforts of the user. Problems occurring during this sort of interaction can be expected to be as irritating as having a pen which leaks or a typewriter with keys that jam. Therefore, a major design goal for MS is to provide an integrated set of necessary and sufficient functions which conform to the target user's cognitive model of a regular office-memo system. At this stage, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale inter-organization mail system....

The level of the MS project effort has also had a major effect upon the system's design. To construct a fully-detailed and monolithic message processing environment requires a much larger effort than has been possible with MS. In addition, the fact that the system is intended for use in various organizational contexts and by users of differing expertise makes it almost impossible to build a system which responds to users' needs. Consequently, important segments of a full message environment have received little or no attention and decisions have been made with the expectation that other Unix capabilities will be used to augment MS. For example, MS has fairly primitive data-base management (i.e., filing and cataloging) facilities and message folders have been implemented in a way which allows them to be modified by programs, such as text editors, which access them directly, rather than through the message system.

-- Framework and Functions of the "MS" Personal Message System: A Report prepared for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, by David H. Crocker


The reader should be aware, that after the Smithsonian’s acceptance, on February of 2012, of Shiva’s papers documenting his invention at UMDNJ, it was Mr. Crocker, who led a vitriolic campaign across the Internet to brush aside and diminish the invention of email by Shiva at UMDNJ. For decades, Mr. Crocker and his ARPANET fraternity had conflated their contributions to email by crediting themselves as “inventors of email” by misusing the term “email” to refer to their work in Text Messaging as “email”. As the historical RAND report clearly shows, neither Mr. Crocker nor his colleagues at the ARPANET, per his own admission, had any intention to create email, the inter-organizational mail system.

When Mr. Crocker’s RAND Report was found by MIT student researcher Devon Sparks, and released within the False Claims section on the web site http://www.inventorofemail.com, organized and edited by Dr. Deborah Nightingale and Dr. Sen Song, in 2012, Mr. Crocker, who I had no relationship with, contacted me and requested to meet me behind closed doors, likely to perform damage control as his contradictory behavior was being exposed.

I declined Mr. Crocker’s request.

The damage he and his ARPANET fraternity had done by being accomplices to the defamatory journalism, unleashed on Shiva, was beyond inexcusable. We hope that on the Anniversary of Email, Mr. Crocker reads his December 1977 RAND Report, and issues a public apology to Shiva, if he desires an authentic intellectual exchange with Shiva and me.


So, for us in 1978, the creation of an electronic version of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail process became the object of our affection. This was a different perspective than Mr. Crocker and the ARPANET researchers, who chose not to attempt to emulate a full-scale inter-organizational mail system, and had deemed the creation of such a system impossible.

We were confident that Shiva could do it.

We sat Shiva down and offered him what turned out to be one of most innovative (and fun) projects our group was ever to undertake. In return, we demanded that this 14-year-old youngster channel all of his energies into the project. We made it very clear that he would be a full-fledged member of our team, treated as an adult and that we would expect nothing less from him. Livingston High School agreed to Shiva spending initially a few days a week and later to half-days at the Newark, New Jersey Campus.

Shiva was eager to begin writing code -- after all that was the most fun. It was surprisingly easy, though, to convince Shiva that the code would just be a physical embodiment of the design. Although, we would need a working version, indeed a production model, the lasting contribution would be the systems analysis that we hoped would lead to implementation that was more than the mere automation of a manual process. We wanted to develop a sustainable logical and functional framework that would add significant value and lead to further innovation over time.

Shiva’s first task was to learn how the interoffice memorandum was used at the University. Who wrote them and to whom? What was their place in the hierarchy of written documentation? What was the sender’s expectation of a reply? What volume could we anticipate? And, of course, what could we do to improve the utility of this modality? Surely, user would want more features as soon as they recognized this new potential. Could we be one step ahead?

Thus, after long deliberations, always with Shiva in the lead, we arrived at core design principles, which in the context of the day, were original, and forward looking at the very least:

• A simple user interface would require no specific computer knowledge and would provide access to all program features at the user level. Command lines are to be prohibited --- our users were life science researchers, clinicians and administrators, not computer scientists.
• The user interface would include a visual compose mode with spelling and formatting capability.
• Interoffice memos would be stored in a structure database and replicated on each node, which would also manage account and routing information.
• Only one instance of a message would exist on any one node until the last recipient elected to delete it or save it in another location.
• Each instance of the program would operate independently of the status of other nodes or the University’s local- and wide-area networks (such as they existed at the time).
• Delivery would be guaranteed.
• Attributes, considered to be part of a letter-based postal delivery system, such as return receipt requested would be implemented.
• A full management interface with account maintenance, environment status and debugging tools would be developed.
• The electronic metaphor of all the other elements of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail system would need to be incorporated: inbox, outbox, folders, memo structure, address book and other important features, that we now have in modern email systems.

Our software tools were relatively primitive. A FORTRAN IV compiler with restrictive variable naming conventions and lacking intrinsic file system access; a non-relational, hierarchical database management system; and a simple networking environment that permitted static routing among nodes in a predetermined mesh. These tools ran on the HP1000 platform, a real-time environment not particularly optimal for the kind of development we envisioned.


Innovation Anywhere, Anytime by Anyone

These impediments turned out to be of little consequence, but certainly upped the complexity of the programmer’s task and by some measure, Shiva’s accomplishment. In fact, the inflexibility of the development and execution environment turned out to be somewhat serendipitous.

Image
First page of the computer program showing Shiva’s naming the program “email”, thus defining email to be the electronic interoffice mail system.

Our project combined the attributes of both the interoffice memorandum and paper mail systems. The FORTRAN IV compiler limited variable names to six characters. Moreover, the RTE/IVB operating system running on our HP1000 computers limited process names to five characters.

Did I hear EMAIL?

Of course! Our new service was electronic and it combined many if not all of the characteristics of paper mail. I can attest that Shiva was the sole author of the entire EMAIL program and system. We released the first version in late 1978. The next year in 1979, he was paid $1.25 per hour and promoted to Research Fellow, and we continued to release new versions of email.

A few years later, Shiva, obtained a Copyright for the program. Nearly 500 users used the system. The rest should be history.

Image
Official US Copyright Notice for “Email” Issued on August 30, 1982, now, in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History (NMAH).

Shiva had written some 50,000 lines of FORTRAN code across more than a dozen cooperating processes that communicated within a node and across the Laboratory Computer Network. In those days, the total amount of memory to run the program on the computer was less than 64 Kilobytes! Shiva had to find clever ways to unload and load those processes, in a seamless manner. This was not easy, and required a great deal creativity, persistence and determination.

We recall that on formal launch day, we filled a large lecture hall at the New Jersey Medical School with technical staff and other parties that were fascinated by the work Shiva had done. Here we were, all of these people: IT professionals, administrators, family and friends to learn what Shiva had done. Multiple screens and white boards filled with charts, “screen shots” and flow diagrams kept everyone‘s attention. There was a bizarre aspect that pervaded all of this.

The presenter was not a distinguished scientist or clinician from UMDNJ or some other vaunted institution, but rather a very young man, a teenager, with a fascinating story of ingenuity and determination.

There is much credit to spread around the vast community of academic, industrial and military researchers and engineers who eclipsed the industrial revolution with their contributions to computer science and computer and network engineering.

We take no credit where it is not due.

We will, however, stand firmly for the innovation that took place at a health sciences institution, an unlikely venue for the work we did. Our incentive was not fame nor fortune, but rather a challenge that arose from our own experiences and our desire to take on a challenge and place our faith on the resources of a 14-year-old student from Livingston, New Jersey, who was disciplined and found a way to come to Newark, NJ to work.

There is a larger story here, one that should be evident by now.

Innovation can happen anywhere, anytime by anyone. The sooner we embrace this truth, the sooner our lives will be enriched by the thousands of other “Shivas” that do not have the luxury of working in the established bastions of innovation, but nevertheless have the intellect and drive to make big contributions.

About Leslie P. Michelson

Image

Leslie P. MichelsonLeslie P. Michelson, Ph.D. is the Director of High Performance and Research Computing Division, Rutgers Medical School (RMS). In 1975, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), now a part of RMS, recruited Dr. Michelson, a trained theoretical physicist from Brookhaven National Laboratories. His group at RMS develops solutions in the life sciences for research endeavors with demanding computational requirements. In the late 1970’s Michelson’s organization provided the challenge, resources and mentorship that led to the development of the first electronic interoffice memorandum postal system by V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai. Throughout his career Michelson has been active in the support of the use of networking technologies to advance research and education interests in the State of New Jersey. He was a founder and served as the third president of the New Jersey Intercampus Network, the predecessor of the State’s Higher Education and Research Network, NJEDge.Net.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

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The First Email System
by Robert Field

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The Third Article in The History of Email Series

What we know today as “email” is really a 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.

In 1978, I was a colleague of Shiva Ayyadurai’s at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), located in Newark, NJ. Shiva and I worked together in the modern office environment of the 1970s, where information sharing, primarily through the printed-paper medium, was the modus operandi.

Image
First page of the computer program showing Shiva’s naming the program “email”, thus defining email to be the electronic interoffice mail system.

Much of my effort at the time was dedicated to managing database software systems. Though Shiva was nearly 20 years younger than me, neither I nor the other Lab members thought of Shiva as a kid or a student. His professionalism, programming capabilities, attention to detail, and commitment to producing software that was user-friendly and reliable, was extraordinary.

His supervisor Dr. Leslie P. Michelson challenged Shiva to create an electronic system that would emulate the interoffice mail system, then in use at UMDNJ. My interaction was one of being a sounding board for Shiva, time-to-time, on database functions and operating systems issues such as memory management. I recall, in particular, Shiva’s incredible persistence to face a technical problem head on, and to solve it.

As a former colleague of Shiva’s, I hope my writing this article, as a part of this History of Email Series, provides details on the first email system created at UMDNJ in 1978.

The Interoffice Mail System

Many people over the age of 40, myself included, will remember the interoffice paper mail system, which was the basis of how offices around the world operated, from the level of secretaries to CEOs. The interoffice mail system had the following interlocked parts (as detailed in Table 1 below), which are the now-familiar components of email: Inbox, the Memo (“To:”, “From:”, “Date:”, “Subject:”, “Body:”, “Cc:”, “Bcc:”), Forwarding, Composing, Drafts, Edit, Reply, Delete, Priorities, Outbox, Folders, Archive, Attachments, Return Receipt, Carbon Copies (including Blind Carbon Copies), Sorting, Address Book, Groups, Bulk Distribution.

The interoffice mail system was not only used across offices but also inter-departmentally and inter-organizationally, some referring to it also as the inter-departmental or inter-organizational mail system, respectively. In this article, we consistently refer to the mail system as the interoffice mail system.

The interoffice mail system at UMDNJ was complicated, consisting of many components. In Table 1, below, is a detailed listing of the parts of the interoffice paper mail system, in use at UMDNJ in 1978, along with their detailed descriptions. If you took away any one component or part, such as the ability to attach other materials (Attachments) or the use of Folders or the ability to send Carbon Copies, your ability to function and communicate with co-workers was greatly impaired in the office environment. This is why it was a “system”, because you needed all the components to work together.

TABLE 1

The Parts and Detailed Description of the Interoffice Mail System at UMDNJ (1978).

INBOX

This was the physical Inbox where a secretary received incoming documents. It was usually made of wood, metal or plastic. The courier or “office boy” or “mailroom clerk” would deliver postal mail or interoffice memos into this Inbox. Deliveries into the Inbox were done at least twice per day. Sometimes, urgent messages were delivered on an ad hoc basis into the Inbox.

OUTBOX

This was a physical box made of metal, wood, or plastic, where outgoing postal mail or interoffice memos, which were composed, edited, an placed in an envelope, and addressed to the recipient, were made available for pickup and delivery to its recipients. A courier or “office boy” or “mailroom clerk” would come and pick up the items from the Outbox regularly, at least twice per day.

DRAFTS

This was a physical box made of metal, wood, or plastic to hold drafts of memos or letters, which were in the midst of being reviewed and edited. Typically, a secretary would write the memo and put in the Drafts box for review. A superior would then pickup, review and provide “red-line” feedback on the memo or letter, and place back into Drafts box. The secretary would retrieve the edited document, make changes, and place the edited document back in the Drafts box. After the superior gave instructions, the memo or document would be deemed as completed; the secretary would then place the memo in an envelope, and place it in the Outbox for pick up.

FOLDERS

Memos, documents and files were archived and organized in metal cabinets containing metal drawers. Within each drawer, one could organize, categorize and these items in manila folders within each drawer.

TYPEWRITER

A Typewriter was an instrument that allowed a person to create a Memo. It consisted of mechanical components corresponding to all the alphabets in the English language plus the 10 digits of the number system, as well as a number of other special characters. The Typewriter required paper and ink ribbon to convert strokes on the keyboard into letters on the paper. There were many styles of Typewriters, mechanical and later electrical.

MEMO

This was typically a piece of 8 1/2 by 11-inch piece of BOND paper. The top of the Memo had the words “++++++ MEMORANDUM ++++++” written on it and centered. Below, there were the following areas: “To:”, “From:”, “Date:”, “Subject:”, “Body:”, “Cc:”, “Bcc:” (only for view in the sender’s original), and another section with “Encl.:”, if Attachment(s) were included. After the “Subject:”, there was typically a horizontal black line, after which the “Body:” of the memo appeared. Below the “Body:” were the names of people on “Cc:” list, and then the “Encl.:” list, listing the various Attachments.

ATTACHMENTS

A memo could have Attachments or enclosures such as another file folder, another document, a drawing or a photograph, or even a parcel.

CARBON COPIES

Carbon copies were copies of a Memo created by the secretary, who would typically place dark blue carbon paper between two Bond pieces of white paper and roll them into the typewriter, to create the copies. The Bond paper on top was the original, the paper below, was the “Carbon Copy” or “Cc:”. Sometimes, several Carbons were used, and sometimes if the “Cc:” list was too long, the original would be mimeographed on a mimeograph machine. Then, the original “To:” recipient would get the original, the top copy, and each person on the CC list would get copies. This got more complicated if there were multiple recipients in the “To:” field, or a Group in the “To:” field.

BLIND CARBON COPIES

Blind Carbon Copies enabled a secretary to send a Carbon Copy of a Memo to some people, that others on the “To:” and “Cc:” lists were purposely made to unaware, or “blind” except to the secretary who authored the Memo. The “Bcc:” list, in the header of the Memo, was kept by the sender/secretary, only, and others who got Carbon copies, those on the “Cc:” list, did not see e.g. they were “blind” to those receiving the Bcc’s. So only the sender knew who was on the Bcc list.

REGISTERED MEMO

In the office environment of the medical school and hospital at UMDNJ, this was a very important feature, because certain Memos had to be acknowledged as received. A Memo could be flagged as a “Registered Memo,” this would mean that it was treated differently. The delivery person would put it in a different color envelope and ensure that recipient signed a Return Receipt, before it was put into the Inbox. This would assure the sender that the recipient got the Memo.

RETURN RECEIPT

This was a formal receipt that a delivery person would make sure got signed by the recipient who had been sent a Registered Memo. This Return Receipt would then have to get sent back to the original sender.

ENVELOPE

The interoffice envelope was typically a bit larger than an 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper, and was normally gray or yellow in color. The envelope had a red string on the outside so it could be secured for ease of opening and reuse. The outside of the envelope provided columns and rows on which the sender and the recipient could be listed. After a recipient received the envelope, they could recycle the envelope by crossing out the previous sender and recipient and using the blank rows to write the new sender and recipient, name and address.

ADDRESS BOOK

Every office had an Address Book, which listed each person’s first and last names, location, Group affiliation (e.g. surgery, finance, pharmacology), room number and phone number. The Address Book was the cornerstone of each offices’ contact list.

GROUPS

A Group was listed next to someone’s name in the Address Book. Individuals could belong to different Groups. Groups included Surgery, Pharmacology, ICU, IT, etc. One nuance was that the Group names may be the same, but the Group was distinct based on the campus location. For example, the Pharmacology Group at one location may have different people, than the Pharmacology Group at another location. Each location had different people in different Groups.

TRASH BUCKET

A Trash Bucket was typically next to a secretary’s desk on the floor. The bucket was made of either plastic or metal, and was the location of where trash, such as old papers, garbage were deposited.

COMPOSING MEMO

Composing a Memo was done by the action of taking a blank piece of white Bond paper and placing it in the Typewriter. Sometimes, if errors were made during time, a white liquid substance in a small bottle jar, colloquially called “whiteout was used to erase mistakes, and then the typing was done over the whited out area.

SENDING MEMO TO INDIVIDUAL

Memo to an individual meant that the “To:” field had only the name of only one recipient.

SCANNING MAIL

Scanning mail was the process of quickly reading the Envelope in the Inbox, opening the Envelope and quickly reading the top portion of a Memo, such as the “From:”, “Subject:”, lines to get a quick idea whether to read the Memo immediately, discard it into the Trash Bucket to read first, to put for later review, or sometimes to discard altogether e.g. junk mail.

FORWARDING (OR REDISTRIBUTION)

A person receiving and reviewing an incoming Memo in the Inbox could Forward or Re-Distribute the Memo to others. Forwarding literally involved adding a list of other recipients who to review the Memo. This Forward list was sometimes just paper-clipped on the received Memo, and as the forwarded recipients read the Memo, they checked off their name on the paper-clipped list, and passed it on to the next recipient, who had not yet read the Memo.

FORWARDING WITH RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED (OR REGISTERED MEMO)

This was an important feature to ensure receipt of a forwarded Memo by the recipient. Sometimes, an important Memo, say from a Director, would be received by a Manager, and that Manager wanted to ensure that certain employees in his group received the Memo. Forwarding with Return Receipt enabled the Manager to know exactly when and who got the Memo and who did not get the Memo. Prior to someone receiving the Memo in their Inbox, the delivery person, would not place the Envelope containing the Memo, it in their Inbox, until the recipient, signed the Return Receipt. The Return Receipts from each employee was sent back to the Manager, and thereby the Manager could the number of Return Receipts and know how many actually received the Memo.

EDITING

A memo sometimes would be edited after it was composed. Editing could be iterative based on the feedback received. Editing typically involved the use of whiteout or sometimes starting with new blank piece of paper and retyping the original Memo with the corrections. Editing relied on the use of the Drafts box, as this box served as the point of interaction between the secretary and her superior.

REPLYING

Sometimes instead of writing a new Memo, an individual Replied to a Memo received in the Inbox. When they replied to the Memo, they could either simply send the response Memo or attach the response Memo to the original Memo sent from the sender as an Attachment for the originating sender’s reference.

BROADCAST MEMO

Sometimes a Memo would need to be broadcasted, or sent, to multiple recipients, sometimes hundreds, not just one individual. This involved listing multiple names of recipients in the “To:” field. The original Memo was created with the listing of all people’s names on the “To:” field. Then that original Memo was copied using the carbon paper to copy, if the list was small, or the original Memo was simply mimeographed. Then each copy was stuffed in an Envelope and placed in the Outbox.

SENDING MEMO TO GROUP

In a large organization, within and across facilities, there were different departments such as Pharmacology, Finance, Administration, Surgery, etc., and one may want to send a Memo to a department or Group. A Group involved a listing of many recipients. However, in the “To:” field only the name of the Group would appear. The secretary would then have to look up in the Address Book and print mailing labels for each individual in that Group, and send a copy of the Memo to each recipient; alternatively, sometimes only one copy of the Group Memo was sent to on address, and the recipient, the secretary or administrator of the Group, on the other end, would make copies of the Memo, and distribute it to members of the Group.

DELETING

Sometimes a memo would be thrown into the Trash Bucket for disposal.

PURGING

The contents of Trash Bucket, by request, would be collected and be destroyed.

UPDATING ADDRESS BOOK

Address Books were updated as employees came and left the organization. New people were added, and those who had left were removed. Sometimes a circular was sent out which was the update to the existing Address Book, and one would have to manually insert the changes in an existing Address Book.

PRIORITIZATION

When mail was left in the Inbox, it sometimes was sorted based on some priority, and marked, such as High, Medium or Low by the secretary. And some secretaries, had file folders, for sorting these three categories of Memos.

ARCHIVING

Not all Memos were discarded after they were read. Some Memos were to be kept for storage, and were often put into an archive file cabinet and organized for long–term record keeping.

UNDELIVERABLE NOTIFICATION

Sometimes a Memo could not be delivered even after many Retries. In this case, the delivery person would take the Memo back to the sender with a note on it saying “Undeliverable”.

RETRIES

All mail had to be delivered, or a real effort was made to keep trying to deliver it before being deemed Undeliverable. This meant a policy of “retries” as many as 3 to 5 times, before the attempts were stopped. The number of Retries was a policy decision of the organization.

SECURING DELIVERY

All mail had to be securely delivered. This meant that only the designated recipient had to receive it. Typically this was ensured, as the delivery person knew who was who and knew the secretaries. Moreover, Memos were put in an individual sealed envelope, with a string closure or taped, so they could not be easily opened during transit.

TRANSPORTING

All mail needed to be transported. There were many ways of Transporting. The delivery person could physically pick up the mail and deliver from local office to office, on foot. Another forms of transporting were using pneumatic tubes, in which the Envelope was placed. The pneumatic tubes were sent on a system of train-track-like rails, form office to office. Mail among different buildings and campuses was transported by cars or trucks.

SORTING

Different locations had mail Sorting facilities, where the mail would come in, be sorted by groups, departments, locations, zip code, office numbers, so the delivery was easier. Within each office, the secretary would also perform sorting operations by a memo’s priority, source, etc.


If you did not know what the interoffice mail system was, before reading this article, I hope Table 1 was educational and provided you a detailed understanding of this paper-based system. Moreover, you will observe a near 1-to-1 correspondence with the parts of the interoffice mail system, itemized in Table 1, and the email system you are using today.

Email As We Know It Was Invented at UMDNJ

In 1978, Shiva conceived and developed an electronic system that replicated all the functions of UMDNJ’s entire interoffice paper mail system, as itemized in Table 1 above.

He named the system “email”, a name that, based on extensive document review, was first introduced and brought into use as his system spread throughout the UMDNJ campuses. This name was assigned to his program for both convenience and out of necessity since the FORTRAN IV programming language, which “email” was written in, required all variables to be in upper case and the RTE-IV operating system had a five-character limit for program names - thus, Shiva concatenated the letters “E”, ”M”, ”A”, ”I”, ”L” to name his program.

In 1978, those five juxtaposed characters had never been used before in the modern English language. While this term may seem obvious to us today, in 1978, it was not.

Table 2 provides a list of all the features that Shiva implemented into the first email system. As you can see, this system was not a “simple” system for just exchanging text messages. It was a full-scale version of the interoffice mail system in an electronic format.

This was email.

TABLE 2

The Parts of Email, the First Email System as Implemented in the Computer Program Invented by V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai at UMDNJ (1978)

Interoffice Mail System Parts in the First Email System

Inbox

All Fields of Interoffice Memo

To:

From:

Subject: (70 chars length)

Date:

Body:

Cc:

Bcc:


Sending Memo to Individual

Saving a Memo as a Draft

Scanning Mail

Forwarding (or Redistribution)

Forwarding with RETURN RECEIPT (or registered memo)

Composing Memo

Drafts

Editing

Outbox

Replying

Broadcast Memo

Sending Memo to Group

Deleting

Purging

Address Book

Updating Address Book

Searching the Address Book

By Group

By User Name (short name)

By Last Name

By Zipnode (node or location)


Prioritization

Archiving

Carbon Copies

Blind Carbon Copies

Groups

Registered Memo

Return Receipt

Undeliverable Notification

Retries

Secure Delivery – Using username and password

Attachments

Attaching to a memo

Creating Attachments from scratch

Saving attachments

Attachment editor


Transmission of memo

Multi-Level User Access – User, Manager, Postmaster, System Administrator

Sorting

Memo Formatting – Formatting functions to make sure that a memo on the screen when printed looked akin to the typewritten memo.

Printing

Print all mail

Print selected memos

Print only the “envelopes”, To, From, Subject, Date

Formatted printing --- memo looked like typewritten one


Exporting of Mail

Export a single memo to a file

Export a set of memos to a file


Group Management --- Postmaster/Administrator Level

Creating Groups

Deleting Groups

Placing User in a Group

Deleting User from a Group

Displaying Groups

Restricting Group Access --- Particular users could send to certain groups. E.g. Only Postmaster could send to “ALL” for global broadcast.


Postmaster & Systems Administrator Functions

Reports on mail usage by user

Deleting aged mail

Shutdown of the entire system

Startup of the entire system

Deleting Users

Adding Users

Adding a “Zipnode”, new network

Deleting a Zipnode

Disabling a User from logging in to the user interface

Direct starting of mail transmission


Integrated System Components

Easy-To-Use User Interface

Word-processor

Integrated Attachment Editor

Relational Database Engine

Modular Inter-Process Communication Protocol

Print Manager for Formatted Printing

Systems Administrator Console

Post Master Console


Email was delivered as one holistic platform, that integrated an easy-to-use interface, and a word processor, all built from scratch by Shiva, as well as a relational database (to support folders, archival, sorting and many other features not possible with flat-file based approaches), with a modular intercommunications protocol.

In 1978, UMDNJ had four campus locations in New Jersey: Newark, Piscataway, Camden, and New Brunswick. Shiva and I worked out of the Newark campus. Workers on these campuses began using email as a public and commercially viable system starting in 1978, when we released the first version. At that time, any one who used a computer on the network, had to login. They were billed for hours of usage for the applications they chose to use. Email was one of these applications.


Shiva solely built the entire system, nearly 50,000 lines of code, using a high-level programming language (FORTRAN IV) and HP IMAGE/1000 database system. He was the sole author of this email system, designing and writing all the code. Dr. Leslie P. Michelson’s article “The Invention of Email”, which is also part of this series, provides additional details from Dr. Michelson’s interactions with Shiva at UMDNJ.

Unlike the developments on the ARPAnet, email was built to address a systems problem in the ordinary office situation using local area and wide area networks (LANs and WANs), where computers across offices and multiple campuses were connected --- independent of the ARPAnet. None of us in the Lab at UMDNJ had any contact with the ARPAnet. The first email system was meant to be a widely shared system of ongoing communication by ordinary workers, not computer scientists who knew code.

Email was developed with a focus on user-friendliness and high-reliability, and deployed as a commercial product, where nearly 500 office workers accessed, and used it. In 1981, Shiva was awarded a Westinghouse Science Talent Search Honors Award for inventing email.

Image
V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai received Westinghouse Science Talent Search Honors Award for invention of email system

Since patenting of software was not available in 1978, Shiva had to wait until 1980, when it became possible to protect software inventions by Copyright. In 1981, he applied for protection of his software, and was awarded two US copyrights in 1982.

Image
Official US Copyright Notice for “Email” Issued on August 30, 1982, now in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History (NMAH).

One Copyright was for “Email”, “Computer Program for Electronic Mail System”, and the other Copyright was for the User’s Manual. He wrote the User’s Manual with the idea that anybody in an office setting could learn and adapt to his system. He had customers to serve!

Email Is Not Simply An Exchange of Messages

So email as a system is not simply exchanging messages among computers, even if a person at one end types a message to a human recipient. Sending text messages alone is what today we call Texting, SMS, Chat or Twitter.

Standard histories of the Internet are full of claims that certain individuals (and teams) in the ARPAnet environment in the 1970s and 1980s “invented email.” For example, the “@” sign, early programs for sending and receiving messages, and technical specifications known as RFCs, have been claimed to be “email.” But as some claimants have admitted, none of these innovations were intended as a system of interlocking parts ­ Inbox, Memo, Outbox, Folders, Address Book, etc. ­ the email system used today by billions of people worldwide.

The standard histories have used the term “email” - which today is understood to be a system of interdependent features - to apply to other forms of electronic communication. Those developments aimed to solve various problems, but were not intended to substitute for the interoffice paper mail system.

These claims have been compiled in an article called the “The Five Myths About Email” by Dr. Deborah J. Nightingale, an eminent enterprise systems architect and former Director of the MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center. This article is a summary of her and Dr. Sen Song's original work posted as False Claims on http://www.inventorofemail.com. Research across hundreds of primary sources concerning these claims shows that each of these innovations - while very important in the evolution of the Internet - were single functions and never a system of interlocked components intended to emulate the interoffice paper mail system.

Conclusion

Members of our Lab kept in touch with Shiva. His work with email continued over the past thirty-five years, even after he left our Lab. From 1978 to 1984, he continued to enhance and evolve his invention at UMDNJ. In 1993, he went on to invent EchoMail, a platform for intelligent email management, growing out of work with the US White House.

During 1993 to 2003, EchoMail became one of the leading email management and email marketing companies for Global 2000 organizations. In early 2000, Shiva began the Email Research Institute, which is now known as the Email Lab, a division of the International Center for Integrative Systems, and aims to provide fundamental research about email. EchoMail, as I understand, now makes its technology accessible to small and mid-sized businesses. Today, he serves as Director of the Email Lab as well as a Board member of EchoMail, Inc.

As to his 1978 invention, on February 16, 2012, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC held a donation ceremony to accept the 50,000 lines of computer code, tapes, papers and other artifacts documenting the invention of email at UMDNJ. All of us, who were colleagues of Shiva, were proud of this event and happy that he received this well-deserved recognition.

An article about the donation ceremony in the Washington Post led to a series of counterclaims, and personal attacks on him. These events inspired those who had worked with Shiva in 1978 as well as some of his other colleagues to develop the website http://www.inventorofemail.com to share the facts about email’s invention.

As the website documents, industry insiders, loyal to Raytheon/BBN, a multi-billion dollar defense company, had created their entire brand, bearing the ‘@’ logo, based on claims of having “invented email”. This group unleashed a vicious public relations campaign. This campaign aimed to discredit email’s origins, intimidate journalists who did not parrot their claims, and assassinate Shiva’s character, while defending and promoting Raytheon/BBN’s brand as the “inventor of email” in the lucrative and competitive cyber-security market.

The leaders of these attacks included David Crocker, a member of the ARPAnet research community starting in 1972, and “historians” and “experts”, either former or current employees of Raytheon/BBN or close associates.


Systems and Software Consortium, Inc. (SSCI) is the new name of the Software Productivity Consortium, SSCI President and CEO Dr. Jim Kane announced today. SSCI is a non-profit consortium where leading aerospace, defense, IT, financial industry, educational and government organizations collaborate on the challenges faced in building critical systems. Coupled with its new identity, the Consortium also launched a new website (http://www.systemsandsoftware.org) to better inform its members, employees and the public about the evolving, dynamic and critical mission of SSCI.

SSCI President and CEO Dr. Jim Kane said, "Our focus is clearly on our members' needs. We have realigned our current offerings and are investing more heavily in new solutions that help members manage risk, advance the business value of their systems engineering activities, and drive business performance."

SSCI solutions are now focused on delivering value in three key areas:

* Value-driven process improvement, where SSCI's unique expertise in systems and software process improvement helps members implement high- maturity, measurable processes to increase quality and productivity
while reducing cycle time.

* Lifecycle strategies for complex systems, including minimizing risk, designing and validating architectures, defining system requirements and interfaces, implementing team approaches, and improving mission assurance.

* Integrating systems and software engineering through proven engineering methods for agile, secure systems development, effective project management, in-depth measurement and analysis, and automated testing and verification.

These solutions reflect an increased emphasis on serving members' needs in complex systems and software development.

Dr. Kane added, "Part of the challenge we face is keeping our members up to date and aware of industry changes and accompanying solutions developed through the Consortium. Our new name and website help us better serve our
members, and convey our core focus more efficiently."

SSCI will continue in its successful collaborative assistance through delivering software process expertise, much like in past contributions with Consortium members in key DoD programs like the DD(X) next generation surface combatant ship and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

About the Systems and Software Consortium, Inc. (SSCI)

SSCI is a nonprofit partnership of the nation's leading systems integrators and federal government contractors, as well as selected government affiliates, exclusively focused on helping its members improve the business performance of their systems and software programs. SSCI delivers value by improving systems and software engineering tools and methods that members can apply to their programs resulting in better performance and greater efficiencies. The Consortium also offers members a trusted environment in which to collaborate on common problems and jointly invest in solution development. Current industry members include, BAE Systems, Boeing, Citigroup, CSC, EDS, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Unisys, UTC, and others. For more information see
http://www.systemsandsoftware.org.

-- Systems and Software Consortium, Inc. (SSCI) is New Name for SPC. Name and Website Reflect Expanding Focus on Member Needs, by Systems and Software Consortium, Inc.


Mr. Crocker, during his attacks, however, had omitted an important fact, to the press and media. In December of 1977, months before Shiva invented email in 1978, Mr. Crocker had authored a historical document for the eminent RAND Corporation, where he summarized the history of electronic messaging by his colleagues, up until December of 1977. In that document, Mr. Crocker had stated:

"At this time, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system [p.4]…. The fact that the system is intended for use in various organizational contexts and by users of differing expertise makes it almost impossible to build a system which responds to all users' needs. [p.7]”
— Crocker, David. Framework and Function of the "MS" Personal Message System. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, December 1977.


Since the system is to be used for communication which is exemplified in older and heavily-exercised technology, it is assumed that users have an extensive conceptual model of the communication domain. It is further assumed that a system which performs in ways which deviate from that model will be viewed as "idiosyncratic" and impeding the efforts of the user. Problems occurring during this sort of interaction can be expected to be as irritating as having a pen which leaks or a typewriter with keys that jam. Therefore, a major design goal for MS is to provide an integrated set of necessary and sufficient functions which conform to the target user's cognitive model of a regular office-memo system. At this stage, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale inter-organization mail system....

The level of the MS project effort has also had a major effect upon the system's design. To construct a fully-detailed and monolithic message processing environment requires a much larger effort than has been possible with MS. In addition, the fact that the system is intended for use in various organizational contexts and by users of differing expertise makes it almost impossible to build a system which responds to users' needs. Consequently, important segments of a full message environment have received little or no attention and decisions have been made with the expectation that other Unix capabilities will be used to augment MS. For example, MS has fairly primitive data-base management (i.e., filing and cataloging) facilities and message folders have been implemented in a way which allows them to be modified by programs, such as text editors, which access them directly, rather than through the message system.

-- Framework and Functions of the "MS" Personal Message System: A Report prepared for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, by David H. Crocker


From the beginning of his joining our research group, Shiva, however, had a singular intention to emulate the full-scale version of the interoffice paper mail system, with the precise goal of addressing the “various organizational contexts”, with “users of differing expertise” such as secretaries, doctors and students at UMDNJ, unlike the ARPAnet researchers.

He did “attempt” and did do the “impossible” to respond to “all users’ needs” by inventing email - the system of interlocking parts replicating the interoffice mail system - the email we all experience today, which Mr. Crocker and his contemporaries had concluded was “impossible”.

In spite of the overwhelming facts of email’s invention by Shiva in 1978 at UMDNJ, detractors and “historians”, part of the ARPAnet community as well as supporters of Raytheon/BBN, unleashed a campaign of historical revisionism in journals and other media to attempt to redefine “email” and to state that no one could have “invented email”. Their attempts at such historical revisionism are also documented on http://www.inventorofemail.com.

In filing for the Copyright, the United States Copyright Office made Shiva’s work products, such as the User’s Manual and portions of his code, publicly available; anyone in the world could have access to it. Shortly after his invention, from 1982 onwards, other products with the same functions and interlocked components used in Shiva’s program “email” appeared in rapid succession (see the History of Email Infographic).

Shiva’s distinction as inventor of email is not to suggest that someone else, at some point in history, would not have created a full-scale emulation of the interoffice mail system (and perhaps called it something else), independent of his invention. The advances in computing and networking, and a growing desire to automate paper-based functions, would have eventually led to the creation of such a system. However, Shiva was the first to create such a system, to call it “email”, and, the first, to receive formal recognition by the United States Government for its invention.

This article, I hope, clarifies what “email” is and what it is not, as well as Shiva’s role as the inventor of email in 1978, while at UMDNJ, and finally, his commitment throughout his career to evolving email to benefit the general public.

About Robert Field

Image

Robert Field is a Senior IST Technologist at Rutgers Medical School (RMS) in the school of Biomedical Sciences. For nearly 40 years, Mr. Field has been working at UMDNJ, now Rutgers University, after UMDNJ’s merger with RMS. His career began with the Laboratory Computer Network (LCN) and Scientific Computing group, as a Data Base Systems Programmer, developing database applications across a range of operating systems and networking environments. During his tenure at LCN, he and V.A. Shiva Dr. Ayyadurai, the inventor of email, were colleagues from 1978 to 1982. His work today focuses on supporting various academic computing initiatives at Rutgers.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:15 am

The Five Myths About Email’s History
by Deborah J. Nightingale, Ph.D.

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

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The Fourth Article in The History of Email Series

(An extract from False Claims About Email)

This article exposes five myths about the origin of email:

Myth #1: “Email was created on the ARPANET”

Myth #2: “Ray Tomlinson invented ‘email’ and sent the first ‘email’”

Myth #3: “The ‘@’ symbol equals the invention of ‘email’”

Myth #4: “RFCs demonstrate ‘email’ existed prior to 1978”

Myth #5: “CTSS, developed in 1960s, is ‘email’


These myths have been perpetuated through the misuses of the term “email” to refer to methods for the simple exchange of text messages as email. Methods for simply exchanging text messages date back to the Morse code telegraph of the 1800s, the genesis of short messaging such as SMS, Texting, Instant Messaging and Twitter, but certainly not email.

Prior to 1978, the term “email” did not even exist in the modern English language, as verified by the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam Webster, two of the world’s most eminent dictionaries.

Email was precisely defined in 1978 when V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, then 14-years-old, created the term “email” to name his computer program, which was the first full-scale electronic replication of the interoffice mail system consisting of the now-familiar components of email: Inbox, Outbox, Folders, Attachments, Memo, Address Book, Forwarding, Composing, etc., the system we all experience today in other email systems as Gmail, HotMail, Yahoo!

Sometime after Shiva’s invention of email in 1978, a group of industry insiders, public relations experts and “historians” loyal to Raytheon/BBN, a multi-billion dollar company which had predicated its entire brand on the claim it had “invented email”, began purposely misusing the term “email” to refer to its developments in text messaging, done prior to 1978 as “email”, in order to hijack credit for the invention from the 14-year-old boy.

A Fabricated “Controversy”

When Shiva was given international recognition, following the Smithsonian’s acquisition of his computer code, papers and artifacts, documenting his invention of email, these industry insiders then resorted to fabricating a “controversy” to confuse journalists and the public on email’s true origins.

As Noam Chomsky, MIT Institute Professor and one of the world’s most respected scholars of our time, observed, in Wired:

“Given the term email was not used prior to 1978, and there was no intention to emulate ‘… a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system,” as late as December 1977 [by the ARPANET], there is no ‘controversy’ here, except the one created by industry insiders, who have a vested interest.”
-- (Wired, Who Invented Email, Just Ask…Noam Chomsky, June 6, 2012)


What sparked this “controversy” was that the documentation unequivocally proved that Shiva, as a 14-year-old boy in 1978, was the first to create the electronic version of the interoffice mail system; the first to call it “email”, a term he coined that did not exist in the English language; and the first to receive formal and official recognition for the invention by the U.S. Government.

When a young Washington Post reporter shared these facts, in a feature article shortly following the Smithsonian acquisition, she and the editorial board of the Washington Post were attacked and barraged by this coterie of industry insiders including consultants, employees, alumni and an "Internet cabal", as referred by Boston Magazine, of SIGCIS “historians” with ties to Raytheon/BBN.

During this melee, Noam Chomsky responded, “What continue[s] to be deplorable are the childish tantrums of industry insiders who now believe that by creating confusion … they can distract attention from the facts.”

These tantrums were sensationalized by tabloids such as Gizmodo, the Blaze, TechDirt, and the Verge, which did little primary research, rather simply parroting and escalating the vitriol, defamation and character assassination of Shiva, while attacking and bullying journalists, including technology editors such as Doug Aamoth of TIME, who had earlier written a well-researched piece, The Man Who Invented Email, based on reviewing the actual documentation.

In the midst of the chaos and confusion, the Washington Post responded by appeasing the childish behavior of these insiders by a “Mea Culpa” and “corrections”. The Washington Post did a significant disservice to the public, by not having the courage to stand by the documented facts, and not doing the primary research on the myths and claims made by these industry insiders, which would have revealed the significant economic interests behind the vitriol and defamation to discredit Shiva’s work.


Setting the Record Straight

I am pleased to provide an extract of five key myths of the facts of email's origin, based on the misuses of the term "email".

Popular sites such as Wikipedia, unfortunately, continue to promulgate the myths of email’s history. Industry insiders dominate and monopolize such forums, and immediately remove even documented citations and facts, which expose and counter their false claims on email’s origin.

There is a simple way to understand the myths about email’s history by realizing a single and fundamental concept: Email is a System.

As an MIT professor, who led MIT’s Sociotechnical Systems Research Center for nearly half a decade, and served on the faculty in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division for over 17 years, my research has focused on systems and, specifically, developing new methodologies for architecting large-scale enterprise systems.

I spent nearly 40 years of my career helping some of the largest global companies in the world as well as military organizations understand the complexity of such large-scale systems in order to enhance their performance.

So, I know a bit about systems.

The classic definition of a system, by the eminent systems scientist Eberhardt Rechtin, is:

“A set of different elements so connected or related as to perform a unique function not performable by the elements alone.”


Email, by definition, as a system, is a set of different elements, so connected, as to be the direct electronic emulation of the interoffice mail system, as Robert Field has explained in The First Email System. The interoffice mail system consisted of the now-familiar components of email: Inbox, the Memo (“To:”, “From:”, “Date:”, “Subject:”, “Body:”, “Cc:”, “Bcc:”), Forwarding, Composing, Drafts, Edit, Reply, Delete, Priorities, Outbox, Folders, Archive, Attachments, Return Receipt, Carbon Copies (including Blind Carbon Copies), Sorting, Address Book, Groups, Bulk Distribution, etc.

The elements of email, which Shiva invented, functioned together to provide the foundations of complex interoffice, inter-departmental, inter-organizational communications. If you took away any one element or part of this system, such as the ability to attach other materials, Attachments, or the use of Folders or the ability to Forward or Prioritize, your ability to function and communicate with co-workers was greatly impaired in the office environment.

This is why email is a “system”, because you needed all elements to function cohesively together for office communications to take place.

When we understand that email is a system, we can realize that there is no “controversy” except the one fabricated by those insiders to confuse and convince us that email existed prior to 1978.

MYTH #1: “EMAIL” WAS CREATED ON THE ARPANET

This statement is a misuse of the term “email”, since the invention referenced in this statement is command-line protocols for the simple transfer of electronic text messages, not email – the electronic replication of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail system.

ARPANET researchers, as history shows, were never interested in creating email. The famous RAND Report written by David Crocker, a leading ARPANET researcher, in December of 1977, is unequivocal as to the lack of intention of ARPANET researchers to create email, the inter-organizational mail system.

In December of 1977, Mr. Crocker wrote:

"At this time, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system [p.4]…. The fact that the system is intended for use in various organizational contexts and by users of differing expertise makes it almost impossible to build a system which responds to all users' needs. [p.7]”
— Crocker, David. Framework and Function of the "MS" Personal Message System. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, December 1977.


Since the system is to be used for communication which is exemplified in older and heavily-exercised technology, it is assumed that users have an extensive conceptual model of the communication domain. It is further assumed that a system which performs in ways which deviate from that model will be viewed as "idiosyncratic" and impeding the efforts of the user. Problems occurring during this sort of interaction can be expected to be as irritating as having a pen which leaks or a typewriter with keys that jam. Therefore, a major design goal for MS is to provide an integrated set of necessary and sufficient functions which conform to the target user's cognitive model of a regular office-memo system. At this stage, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale inter-organization mail system....

The level of the MS project effort has also had a major effect upon the system's design. To construct a fully-detailed and monolithic message processing environment requires a much larger effort than has been possible with MS. In addition, the fact that the system is intended for use in various organizational contexts and by users of differing expertise makes it almost impossible to build a system which responds to users' needs. Consequently, important segments of a full message environment have received little or no attention and decisions have been made with the expectation that other Unix capabilities will be used to augment MS. For example, MS has fairly primitive data-base management (i.e., filing and cataloging) facilities and message folders have been implemented in a way which allows them to be modified by programs, such as text editors, which access them directly, rather than through the message system.

-- Framework and Functions of the "MS" Personal Message System: A Report prepared for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, by David H. Crocker


The ARPANET researchers were focused on creating methods for the simple exchange of text messages, in the lineage of the telegraph, and not on creating an electronic version of the interoffice, inter-organizational mail system.

During the Civil War, the military, for example, relied on the telegraph as a core and strategic medium of communication for sending short text messages. The telegraph inspired continuing work by military research organizations. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), for example, funded the ARPANET to develop methods for transport of simple text messages across computers during the 1960s and 1970s.

The purpose of the telegraph, unlike the interoffice mail system, was to transport text messages electronically across wires, using cryptic codes.


Image Image
Telegraph operators sending and receiving text messages.

The interoffice system, unlike the telegraph, was a system used for transporting interoffice paper mail across offices, departments, organizations and buildings, using people, cars, trucks and pneumatic tubes that were prevalent across many offices.

Image
Pneumatic tubes, a critical component of the interoffice mail system.

Just as the telegraph was not the interoffice mail system, the ARAPNET work was not email, but at best was a precursor to what we know today as Texting or Text Messaging. Therefore, statements that claim email was invented by the ARPANET are simply false and conflate the ARPANET work.

In fact, prior to 1978, the ARPANET referred to their work as “Text Messaging” or “Messaging” never as “email”. After the invention of email by Shiva in 1978, ARPANET alumni began to refer to their work as “email”.


This important distinction between the telegraph and the interoffice mail system helps us to understand the myth of the statement that “Email was created on the ARPANET”.

The military had little interest in sending interoffice memoranda on the battlefield in the 1970s - this is not what ARPANET was built for.

MYTH #2: RAY TOMLINSON INVENTED "EMAIL" AND SENT THE FIRST "EMAIL" MESSAGE

This statement is a misuse of the term “email” since Ray Tomlinson did not invent email - the electronic replication of of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail system. The invention referenced in such statements and attributed to Mr. Tomlinson is the simple exchange of text messages between computers.

In fact, what Mr. Tomlinson did was to simply modify a pre-existing program called SNDMSG, which he himself did not write. The minor modifications he made enabled the exchange of simple text messages across computers. The resulting SNDMSG however, was unusable by ordinary people, and required a set of highly technical computer codes that the sender had to type to transfer a message from one computer to another. Such cryptic codes were far too technical, and could not be used by a secretary or office worker.

As historical references demonstrate, SNDMSG, far from being email, was at best, a very rudimentary form of text messaging.
As John Vittal, an early leading pioneer in electronic messaging researcher, observed:

“The very simple systems (SNDMSG, RD, and READMAIL) did not integrate the reading and creation functions, had different user interfaces, and did not provide sufficient functionality for simple message processing.”—Vittal, John. MSG: A Simple Message System. Cambridge, MA: North-Holland Publishing Company, 1981.


Moreover, Mr. Tomlinson, to his own admission said that what he created was a “no-brainer” and a minor contribution.

“I was making improvements to the local inter-user mail program called SNDMSG. The missing piece was that the experimental CPYNET protocol had no provision for appending to a file; it could just send and receive files. Adding the missing piece was a no-brainer—just a minor addition to the protocol.”—Tomlinson, Ray, retrieved April 7, 2012.
http://openmap.bbn.com/~tomlinso/ray/fi ... frame.html


SNDMSG was less than a rudimentary form of text messging, and a far cry from email, the system created by Shiva which consisted of 50,000 lines of code that was the full-scale emulation of the entire interoffice mail system, by definition.

MYTH #3: THE “@” SYMBOL EQUALS THE INVENTION OF "EMAIL"

This is a misuse of the term “email” since it implies that the “@” symbol is equivalent to inventing email - the electronic replication of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail system.

The “@” symbol is used in an email address to separate the user name from the domain name. The invention referenced in the above statement is the use of the “@” symbol to distinguish two computers when sending a text message. The “@” symbol is not a necessary component to distinguish two computers, in some cases “-at” was used, as verified by Tom Van Vleck:

“Because the ‘@’ was a line kill character in Multics, sending mail from Multics to other hosts used the control argument -at instead.”—Van Vleck, Tom. History of Electronic Mail, http://www.multicians.org/thvv/mail-history.html, April 7, 2012.


In the first email system developed by Shiva, the symbol “.” was used to distinguish different computers. Equating the “@” symbol with the invention of email was a major branding and public relations effort of Raytheon/BBN. The “@” symbol is not email.

As M.A. Padlipsky, the eminent electronic messaging pioneer, an MIT graduate, a member of the ARPANET team, and a close contemporary of Mr. Tomlinson, observed of Raytheon/BNN’s long history of self-promotional activities:

“[T]he BBN guys - who always seemed to get to write the histories and hence always seemed to have claimed to have invented everything, anyway, perhaps because BBN was the only "for-profit" to furnish key members of the original Network Working Group.”—Padlipsky, M.A., ARPANET contributor and author of more than 20 RFC specifications), “And they argued all night….”,
http://archive.is/dx2TK


To conclude, the creation of the “@” symbol to distinguish computers, does not in any way equate to the invention of email.

MYTH #4: RFCS DEMONSTRATE "EMAIL" EXISTED PRIOR TO 1978

Requests for Comments (RFCs) were simply written documentations, not an email computer program, nor an email system. RFCs were literally meeting notes that recorded the meetings of electronic messaging researchers in the 1970s. As such, this is a flagrant misuse of the term “email”.

For example, sensationalist statements, such as the one by issued by Gizmodo in 2012 stating:


“[E]mail underpinnings were further cemented in 1977's RFC 733, a foundational document of what became the internet itself.”


are, at best misinformed, and completely lack understanding that email was the electronic interoffice mail system. Furthermore, email does not need the Internet to operate. Email systems initially ran on Wide Area Networks (WANs) and Local Area Networks (LANs), independent of the Internet and ARPANET. In fact, even today, one doesn’t need the Internet to run email.

Moreover, RFC 733 was a document to define an attempted standard that was never even fully accepted. The very term “RFC” means “Request for Comments”. It was a document created from meeting notes, and proposed ideas for message format and transmission, but said little about feature sets of individual electronic messaging or mail systems.

As the opening of RFC 733, it states:

“This specification is intended strictly as a definition of what is to be passed between hosts on the ARPANET. It is not intended to dictate either features which systems on the Network are expected to support, or user interfaces to message creating or reading programs.”— http://tools.ietf.org/rfc/rfc733.txt


Therefore, RFCs do not demonstrate that email existed prior to 1978. What RFCs demonstrate are that meetings and discussions were taking place on defining methods to exchange text messages, not the creation of email.

MYTH #5: CTSS, DEVELOPED IN 1960's, IS "EMAIL"

This is a misuse of the term “email” since the reference to CTSS MAIL (Computer Time Sharing System), the method referenced and attributed to MIT, was an early text messaging system, not a version of email --- the system of interlocked parts intended to emulate the interoffice mail system.

This invention, MAIL, allowed a CTSS user to transmit a file, written in a third-party editor, and encoded in binary-coded decimal format (BCD), to other CTSS users. The delivered message would be appended to the front of a file in the recipient’s directory that represented the aggregate of all received messages. This flat-file message storage placed strict constraints on the capacity of MAIL, and required users to traverse and review all messages one-by-one; search and sort mechanisms were not available.

The design choices in MAIL—lack of search and sort facilities, need for an external editor, dependence on CTSS-specific user IDs, and flat-file message storage—put strict constraints on the use and capacity of the command. It was well-suited to the low-volume transmission of informal (i.e. unformatted) messages, like text messaging of today.

The creator of MAIL, Tom Van Vleck, admitted this fact. Van Vleck stated:

“The proposed uses [of MAIL] were communication from ‘the system’ to users, informing them that files had been backed up, communication to the authors of commands with criticisms, and communication from command authors to the CTSS manual editor.” -http://www.multicians.org/thvv/mail-history.html, retrieved April 18th, 2012


Those who promoted MAIL as "email," when the term "email" did not even exist in 1965, were attempting to redefine "email" as a command-driven program that transferred BCD-encoded text files, written in an external editor, among timesharing system users, to be reviewed serially in a flat-file.

One would be hard-pressed to draw a historical straight line from MAIL to today’s email systems. MAIL was not "email", but a text messaging command line system, at best. Historically, one can give credit to MAIL as a predecessor of today’s electronic bulletin board systems or modern blog postings.


CONCLUSION

Email is a system of interconnected parts that was designed with a clear aim to emulate another system: the interoffice paper-based mail system, a system of interlocking parts ­ Inbox, Memo, Outbox, Folders, Address Book, etc. ­ the elements of the email system used today by billions of people worldwide.

From our review of the five myths about email, one can understand developments such as the ARPANET efforts, early programs for sending and receiving messages, the “@” sign, technical specifications known as RFCs, and MAIL, which were claimed to be “email”, were not email - the system of interlocked parts for emulating the interoffice mail system.

Those developments, while significant to the advancement of the Internet, aimed to solve various problems, but were not intended to substitute for the interoffice paper mail system --- email.

Acknowledgements

For those interested in the unabridged version of this article, kindly refer to the False Claims section on http://www.inventorofemail.com which Dr. Sen Song and I organized and edited in 2012. Our compiling, editing and organizing the claims would not have been possible without the Herculean efforts of Devon Sparks and Lorraine Monetti, who discovered and annotated the documents, referenced therein.

About Deborah J. Nightingale

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Deborah J. NightingaleDeborah J. Nightingale, Ph.D. is a world-renowned expert in enterprise systems transformation and architecting. For nearly 17 years, Dr. Nightingale served as a Professor of Practice of Engineering Systems, and Aerospace and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). For the past nearly half a decade, she led the MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center. Today, she works with some of world’s leading organizations, bringing her strategic systems thinking approaches to transform their enterprises to achieve desired capabilities such as sustainability, flexibility or enhanced innovation and entrepreneurship.

Prior to joining MIT, Dr. Nightingale headed up Strategic Planning and Global Business Development for AlliedSignal Engines. While at AlliedSignal she also held a number of executive leadership positions in operations, engineering, and program management, participating in enterprise-wide operations from concept development to customer support. Prior to joining AlliedSignal, she worked at Wright-Patterson AFB where she served as program manager for computer simulation modeling research, design, and development in support of advanced man-machine design concepts.

Dr. Nightingale has a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in Industrial and Systems Engineering. In addition, she holds MS and BS degrees in Computer and Information Science from The Ohio State University and University of Dayton, respectively. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, Past-President and Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, and co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Enterprise Transformation. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including Beyond the Lean Revolution: Achieving Successful and Sustainable Enterprise Transformation and Architecting the Future Enterprise (Spring 2015, MIT Press). Dr. Nightingale is a frequent keynote speaker and serves on a number of boards and national committees, where she interacts extensively with industry, government and academic leaders.
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