So, email. It was invented in 1965 with the first time-sharing systems at MIT. Students at MIT wrote a program called “MAIL” that allowed sending email to each other, as documented by one of the early developers who worked on the MIT systems. By 1970 email programs had gotten a bit more sophisticated, with the development of the modern inbox as part of the Multics project. In 1971, the first version of Unix, created by people who’d worked on Multics who were pining for some of the features of Multics, included a program called ‘mail’ to allow sending email to other users on Unix systems. Then in 1971 Ray Tomlinson, a developer of the ARPANET (a predecessor of the Internet) at BBN (a government contractor), sent the first email across the ARPANET between two computers. By 1972 he’d developed the syntax of using the “@” sign to separate the user name and the destination, so that the ARPANET email system didn’t need to know the user accounts on all systems on the ARPANET simultaneously and so that a user “badtux” at one site and a user “badtux” at another site wouldn’t be confused with each other. Initially the DEC 10 (Tenex) and Multics operating systems supported Internet mail. Obviously others followed.
By 1973 the situation of incompatible email systems on the ARPANET had reached the point where a meeting had to be called to standardize email on the ARPANET. The ARPANET community then tossed out a multitude of proposals which were discussed and hashed out over the course of the year, mostly via email (!). EMAIL accounted for 2/3rds of the traffic on the ARPANET that year. The first SPAM on the ARPANET apparently happened in 1975. By 1976 the Queen of England sent an email message on the ARPANET. In 1976. By 1978, the BSD Unix Mail program had been written with folders and the ability to easily move messages between them, and an email reader had been implemented in MacLisp inside Multics Emacs, thereby proving the adage that Emacs is not a text editor, Emacs is an operating system.
Also in 1978, a 14 year old kid in New Jersey by the name of Shiva Ayyadurai started writing an electronic version of the inter-office mail system for what later became Rutgers Medical School and finished writing it sometime in 1979. He called it EMAIL. Some time later, in 1982, he illegally copyrighted it. (Illegally because it was done as a work for hire for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey which paid him as an employee to write the program, and thus the copyright, which was automatically granted upon the program first being distributed under the terms of the Copyright Act of 1976 which took effect on January 1, 1978, legally belonged to the medical school under the Work for Hire doctrine).
So. That’s a brief history of email up until 1979. In 1980, the limitations of using a bag on the side of the FTP protocol to pass email messages around the Internet reached the breaking point, and SMTP (Send Mail Transport Protocol) was invented and ARPANET’s email transitioned to that new protocol, which is still in use today as our standard Internet EMAIL protocol to transmit messages between email servers all over the world. And in 1983, the current IPv4 Internet protocol replaced the original IMP protocol and it is still in use today. None of which is controversial in any way… except Shiva Ayyadurai says he invented email, and he’ll sue anybody who says differently. Despite all that easily documented history that I mention above. Documented history including, for example, the original Unix manuals from 1971, or the source code for the original MIT email program from 1965 which can be downloaded from historical archives and viewed for yourself, or etc.
And no, those were not instant messaging programs. The BSD ‘mail’ program from 1978, for example, is the exact same program that is shipped with every Linux system in the world today. You likely haven’t seen the program if you date to the GUI era, but I used it back in my BSD days in the early 80’s before we had all this fancy GUI shit, and it implements all the functionality you’d expect of an email program — it has subject headers and From headers, it has folders, you can move messages between folders, etc. It was email. Period. And not invented by Shiva Ayyadurai.
So Shiva Ayyadurai says he’s tired of being called a liar and a fraud? Then he should quit lying and should quit fraudulently claiming to have invented email. And if he doesn’t want to read articles like this on the Internet? Then he should quit being the sort of fucking asswipe who sues news publications that publish the true history of email.
Note: Feel free to copy and paste. This is the kind of asshole who deserves all the negative publicity he has bought by suing a news source for, well, reporting the truth.
– Badtux the Annoyed Penguin