History by lawsuit: After Gawker’s demise, the “inventor of e-mail” targets Techdirt

Shiva Ayyadurai, seen here in January 2017. (credit: Boston Globe / Getty Images News)

History is not fixed; like memory itself, it is an act of reconstruction.

Shiva Ayyadurai understands this. Ayyadurai has spent nearly six years publicly proclaiming himself the “inventor of e-mail.” But this claim about e-mail—as everyone but Ayyadurai’s supporters understand the term “e-mail”—isn’t true.

Ayyadurai did write a program called “EMAIL” for use by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now a part of Rutgers). He copyrighted the code in 1982. But Ayyadurai today makes the far more significant claim that he invented “the electronic mail system as we know it today,” even though his code had little impact beyond the university. Mainstream tech history books don’t even mention Ayyadurai—unless you count the several books Ayyadurai has written about himself.

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