• ArtisanalBrewer78

    Great article! Wish I was back in Boston. Very inspiring story on Dr. Ayyadurai. I also read http://www.inventorofemail.com. Now I know what email really is — hope the USPS gets on board. Thanks again. Also, loved the beer story.
    -AB

    • Julius Bass

      Nice article Ms. Nanos! As a person of color, it’s good to see some news on minorities in your magazine, and be introduced to VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the inventor of email.

      I was taken aback though when I found this http://www.stormfront.org/forum/t868079/ on a white supremacist site trashing Dr. Ayyadurai — considering it insane that a “black man” Ayyadurai could have invented email.

      Jules

      • Teus

        The racism and irrational denial of Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention of email are beyond belief.

        In particular, the BBN insiders think that no one is going to connect the dots and realize that V.A. Shiva is the inventor of email ( http://www.inventorofemail.com ).

        BBN has the most to gain financially by continuing to promote its false brand. People are entitled to their own opinions but not to their own “facts.”

        • David Moran

          These three comments are as bogus as Shiva the impostor himself. (They also smell laughably of being plants.) BBN has nothing to gain from anything involving email, nor does anyone else except for guess who. There’s no racism going on, either, just a sad, demonstrable fraud. As for being a Fulbright *scholar*, well, I mean, check it out.

        • Teus

          BBN’s web site has got a big fat “@” symbol with their bearded mascot Tomlinson claiming himself as “inventor of email”! How much more blatant does it need to get??!!

          So if “Moran”, below, can’t see the link between email and BBN, then he needs to change the a to an o in his name.

          Oh, and for the facts, which is what “scholars” do focus on, check out http://www.inventorofemail.com/claims_about_email.asp#False-Claim-2 clearly showing why BBN and Tomlinson DID NOT invent email.

        • Teus

          BBN

          • David Moran

            Quit going to Shiva’s self-shill for cred, jeez. BBN gets no moneys from rightly pointing out its intellectual history.

            (And I have never heard that joke about my name! Good one, Teus!)

            If you are going to misleadingly opine about scholarship in this pathetic saga, at least refer people to an actual working scholar in the area, and his demolition of ol’ Shiva:

            http://www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai .

            I mean, seriously.

          • Teus

            Haigh a “scholar”?! Any fool knows that SIGCIS is just a cabal of self-promoting freaks disguised as “historians” When you get time, do read some facts:

            http://www.inventorofemail.com/claims_about_email.asp

            Where “Haigh’s” masquerading days as a “scholar” and “historian” are E X P O S E D.

            Come on, you really should add that “O” to your name.

            But, I suppose you standard of “scholar”, is Haigh, whose primary reference is GIZMODO and Sam Biddle, the “journalist” who couldn’t even get the story of an Internet dog “boo” right.

            Oh, and, let’s not forget that this “scholar’s” post was REJECTED by the Washington Post!

            Boo Hoo.

          • David Moran

            Shiv, everyone can see it’s you and yours here commenting in your lame defense.

        • Wayne

          Hi Guys
          Come to Australia. The No:1 Racist country in the world.

      • ArtisanalBrewer78

        Jules,

        Look, I think the story is an inspiring one, regardless of the race. Have no idea who BBN is. Is that the big Ad Agency in Maryland? Ayyadurai is a bit crazy, the stuff in India sounded a bit out there.

        -AB

        • RagingBull

          Hello Mr. Artisanal

          I am from India. That stuff in India was real and Dr. Ayyadurai was really attacked by the government. I know you in America may think it is crazy, but it was big news here in 2009 — all over the press. He really risked his life. No joking.

          I refer you to this which was on PRIME TIME INDIAN TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS1LUbOxcuU

        • RagingBull

          Also, Mr Artisanal,

          PM Bhargava, the most eminent scientist of India, wrote to the Prime Minister of India stating that Dr. Ayyadurai’s 47-page report exposing corruption in India was “excellent” and “accurate”, in full support of Dr. Ayyadurai.

          Here are two references:
          (1) http://spicyipindia.blogspot.in/2012/05/csir-tech-pvt-ltd-its-controversial.html

          (2) Letter from Dr. Bhargava to the Prime Minister of India:
          https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bxi2TzVXul5ZcUxpMW5pNU1MOGs

          I think in America your journalists have gotten used to calling anyone crazy if they actually stand up and speak the truth.

      • dave

        As a person with 2 legs I am thrilled this article is about another person with 2 legs. However, I am appalled to find an opposing article on the internet implying men with 2 legs cannot drink milk!

        Julius also seems to miss the entire point of the article: did Shiva invent email?

        Enjoy your colour Julius. How many legs have you got?

    • Catherine Blythe

      Ms. Nanos thx for the reference to http://www.inventorofemail.com ! After reading it, I was very moved and inspired — V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai is clearly the inventor of email.

      It’s unfortunate that a bunch of bullies who support Raytheon/BBN think that they can continue to perpetuate false claims about email: http://www.inventorofemail.com/claims_about_email.asp and hijack the innovation from a 14-year-old boy, who in 1978, clearly is the father of email.

      -Catie

      • InventorOfFraud.Com

        You guys need to hire a new PR team. This is embarrassing.

        • tbetz

          They were probably all posted from the same IP address.

          • Anmol@MIT

            Lol! I can just see it now. Poor ol’ Shiva, hunched over his keyboard furiously creating sock-puppet accounts to aid him in his righteous fight against the powers that be who are supposedly united in a global conspiracy against him. Pathetic. As an Indian (who’s also got an MIT degree BTW and knows just what others there think of this crackpot) I’m glad he was tossed out of CSIR. We don’t want such a-holes here; good riddance.

            The Boston Mag should be ashamed of its lede BTW: “the MIT lecturer who invented e-mail”? In what fantasy universe except Shiva’s own? What a loser.

    • Catherine Blythe

      Ms. Nanos thx for the reference to http://www.inventorofemail.com ! After reading it, I was very moved and inspired — V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai is clearly the inventor of email.

      It’s unfortunate that a bunch of bullies who support Raytheon/BBN think that they can continue to perpetuate false claims about email: http://www.inventorofemail.com/claims_about_email.asp and hijack the innovation from a 14-year-old boy, who in 1978, clearly is the father of email.

      -Catie

    • Julius Bass

      Hi AB,
      Yeah, well yeah, you know, they made Malcom X look crazy. But I wish Ms. Nanos researched the India piece better. If what happened in India was real, then Ayyadurai really risked his neck, and is like a modern day Martin Luther King, fighting for all our rights — but who will ever know…. My cousin is from there, and it is one corrupt country!

      • spandrelmatic

        Yes, Ayyadurai is just like Martin Luther King, Jr. Of course he is. Except, of course, that he would have sent an email, not a letter, from Birmingham Jail.

        Maybe you could squeeze Copernicus, Einstein and St. Francis in there too while you’re at it.

  • Miles Fidelman

    Kudos for doing your research, but I am curious as to why you’re providing so much ink to this guy. Isn’t the real story here one of how did the Washington Post, and other professional journalists, get flummoxed by a self-aggrandizing nut job – rather than yet more press for a guy who obviously has a few screws loose?

  • EarlyAdopter

    I can personally attest to the existence and established use of full-featured email systems before the young Shiva Ayyadurai began his project. In January 1977 I began a job at Bolt Beranek and Newman in Cambridge, MA, adding new capabilities to Hermes, a second-generation email program. It already did everything one would expect of any email program today – send and receive messages over the network, sort email into folders, implement memo-style address fields, use sophisticated search functions to retrieve stored messges, and so on. John Vittal, mentioned in this article, was a member of the project team. Email was in such widespread use among the ARPAnet community that on my first day at work it was found that my assigned email address had to be changed. This was some years before the Domain Name System was put into use. At BBN it was standard policy to use email addresses in the form lastname@bbn (no “.com”). Someone with the same last name had previously worked at BBN. The email system was sophisticated enough that it had been configured to forward emails sent to this other person on to him at his new employer, Xerox PARC. Now he started getting my emails too. I had to be assigned a new email address to get around the problem.

    In the technical and scientific community, taking credit for someone else’s work is about the worst thing anyone can do. That’s why so many are up in arms about Shiva Ayyadurai’s claim, myself included.

    As an aside, the reporter definitely got one thing wrong. Not everyone working on email technology and systems (let alone the ARPAnet) back in the 70’s was male. Perpetuating or worse, originating, that kind of generalization is, to me, a “math is hard” Barbie moment.

    • JCBrown

      Dear EarlyAdopter,
      Some facts about plagiarism and Raytheon/BBN. Read the facts and cry, cry, cry….

      FACT #1 – Hermes was a rudimentary text messaging system, not email. Stop lying, and misusing the term “email”, which did not exist prior to 1978, when Shiva came up with it and defined IT. I refer you to:

      http://www.inventorofemail.com/claims_about_email.asp#False-Claim-5

      FACT #2 – Raytheon/BBN is run by a plagiarist. I refer you to:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/03/business/media/03leonhardt.html

      FACT #3 – V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai invented email, which is by definition, the electronic interoffice, inter-organizational mail system. I refer you to:

      http://www.inventorofemail.com/definition_of_email.asp#Table-2

      FACT #4 – Stop plagiarizing the work of a 14-year-old kid, you thieves !! Ray Tomlinson DID NOT invent email. In Newark, you’d be in jail, but at BBN, you get to be an overpaid CEO, I refer you to:

      http://boston.citybizlist.com/7/2012/3/16/Is-Raytheons-William-Swanson-Overpaid-at-18.8M.aspx

      Facts, facts, facts: http://www.inventorofemail.com.

      Sorry…, name calling and making Ayyadurai look crazy, ain’t gonna cut it — you plagiarist, GET REAL

      • InventorOfFraud.Com

        Thanks Shiva. We appreciate your input.

    • JCBrown

      Dear EarlyAdopter,

      Some facts about plagiarism and Raytheon/BBN. Read the facts and cry, cry, cry….

      FACT #1 – Hermes was a rudimentary text messaging system, not email. Stop lying, and misusing the term “email”, which did not exist prior to 1978, when Shiva came up with it and defined IT. I refer you to:

      http://www.inventorofemail.com/claims_about_email.asp#False-Claim-5

      FACT #2 – Raytheon/BBN is run by a plagiarist. I refer you to:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/03/business/media/03leonhardt.html

      FACT #3 – V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai invented email, which is by definition, the electronic interoffice, inter-organizational mail system. I refer you to:

      http://www.inventorofemail.com/definition_of_email.asp#Table-2

      FACT #4 – Stop plagiarizing the work of a 14-year-old kid, you thieves !! Ray Tomlinson DID NOT invent email. In Newark, you’d be in jail, but at BBN, you get to be an overpaid CEO, I refer you to:

      http://boston.citybizlist.com/7/2012/3/16/Is-Raytheons-William-Swanson-Overpaid-at-18.8M.aspx

      Facts, facts, facts: http://www.inventorofemail.com.

      Sorry…, name calling and making Ayyadurai look crazy, ain’t gonna cut it — you plagiarist, GET REAL!

      • EarlyAdopter

        Post as many times as you wish and say whatever you may, but the facts are the facts and I was there, using email and developing software for a very sophisticated and full-featured email system before the young Shiva Ayyadurai embarked on his own project.

        I haven’t worked for BBN in many years and get no money from them or anyone else for saying this. My sole interest is as a professional who believes that credit should go where credit is due. In this case the credit for “invention” goes to the many people who, via collaboration and building on each others’ ideas and work, developed an application that truly has changed the world.

        The computer museum has a copy of the Hermes user manual, with copyright and publication dates prior to 1978. Short of reading the manual, people who are interested in learning about it and its degree of sophistication and functionality can search the Internet and find references and descriptions of it from that general period and draw their own conclusions.

        Similarly, people who are interested in the truth of the matter might search for ANY citation of Ayyadurai’s system in a peer-review technical publication – or, for that matter, any citation anyplace by someone who has provably been a practitioner in the field and who is not Shiva Ayyadurai or one of his associates citing his work as as basis or inspiration for their own. There are none.

        Is it even possible for there to be a vast conspiracy involving probably hundreds (or even more) people around the world who were involved in email back in the 70s to deny Shiva Ayyadurai his supposed place in history? Hardly. And why would they do that in the first place? Sheesh.

        The story of a 14-year old inventing something that changed the world is something that many would like to believe. It would be so inspiring if it were true. But, like a fairy tale, it simply isn’t.

  • Vellayappa

    I am Dr. Ayyadurai’s father. As an engineer for 50 years, anybody would be upset at having their work plagiarized. The term Email nor the invention did not exist prior to 1978.

    Vellayappa

    • Anmol@MIT

      “The term Email nor the invention did not exist prior to 1978.”

      Aww, got your old man to lie and upvote on your behalf too? Or is that you again, Shiva? Sickening.

  • Matthew Labrador

    I have been friends with Shiva since ’81. Shiva is a man of integrity who during our college days fought tirelessly against the racial and class injustices that have been perpetrated at MIT and in Boston in general.

    Such a man, in my view, could not be the fraud that others, doubtless with their own selfI -serving agendas, have labelled him.

    I told Janelle Nanos as much in my 45+ interview with her as she was researching this article.

    I must say I am disappointed with the bipolar tone the final article has taken, at first declaring Shiva the inventor of email, and later portraying his life as becoming unravelled and describing his fight to protect his legacy as “quixotic.”

  • Data Center Jesus

    Nice article clearly pointing out the very believable, but very late to the party, “inventor” of the word e-mail. All the fighting and complaining will not alter the fact that ARPANET was first with the computerized mailing systems. You don’t get to be called the inventor of the wheel just for coming up with the name and reinventing it after the fact. Grow up and get over it and get on with your career. The claims are now a joke and nothing will change this in the eyes of people who can see the timeline: email comes from the 60s and 70s ARPANET. Period. No one is out to get “brown people” I’m one of them, and very well respected in the computer industry. “Dr. Email” should do the same, for a change. The world is not out to get him, merely to allow him to come to the realization that he did not get to the mountain top first, or second. And accept the fact. You didn’t invent electronic mail messaging. You coined a nice term, be happy with that and invent another amazing tool and we’ll see how that goes.

  • JK

    Well, my first thought is, where is the now-ubiquitous e-mail system derived from? Has the current software/protocol system evolved from Ayyadurai’s EMAIL, or from the ARPANet system messaging, or from another source? What happened to Ayyadurai’s code and the system at the hospital? Did it grow and spread, or was it eventually replaced?

    • EarlyAdopter

      The system we all use today is an evolution of the system used on the ARPAnet in the 1970s, using revised/expanded versions of the protocol and message format standards that were used on the ARPAnet during that time. The standards, called RFCs, are readily available online. See, for example, RFC 733, published in November 1977 (before the young Shiva Ayyadurai began his project). It starts by saying which RFCs it replaces and notes that it was eventually replaced by RFC 822. You can get RFC 733 here: http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc733

      Note also that each of these documents cites other relevant work, much as a scientific paper would. There is no mention of Shiva Ayyadurai’s program at any point in the chain of RFCs starting from before 1978 and ending now.

      • JK

        Ah, very very interesting. Not just all the syntax and fields, but it states “This standard specifies a syntax for text messages which are
        passed between computer users within the framework of “electronic mail”.”
        I would guess the young Shiva studied this.

  • http://bendwavy.org/ Anton Sherwood

    PLATO had “personal notes” by 1976, but I guess that doesn’t count because it wasn’t called “e-mail”.

  • Chris

    This guy owned a condo above me in Cambridge. I wouldn’t call him a constructive or helpful member of the condo association. Actually, an “asshole,” a “dick,” and a “loon” is right on. Sorry to see that so much press is being wasted on a fake.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003620567670 John Rock

      well, at least he helped you to whine about him to your friends by inventing email. you have to be grateful to him

    • Wayne

      Hello Chris
      Are you an American…! I am not surprised to see your ‘Dick head’ and Oh… who is this… @The future Dick head…! You know who Tamils are… Go to Tamil Nadu, India and for your chance to see many American licking and Sucking Tamils for so many things. If I see… @You are dead.. man.

  • R. D

    This article is tilted. It tells the story as if a bunch of clubby nerds got together to deny an outsider’s claims instead of the story of how some of the most reputable institutions got taken in by some very dubious claims, to put it mildly. How has this charlatan managed to get the endorsement on his self promoting website of such a distinguished person as Noam Chomsky (if it is indeed legitimate)? Also many of the comments here supporting this man’s claims are suspicious. For e.g the one by the “Matthew Labrador” who claims to be a friend and colleague. I googled that name and the only credible reference I can find to this person comes from Mr Ayyadurai’s own resume page.
    There is obviously a great story here -one of fraud and delusion, that this magazine has failed to do justice to. Perhaps the NYTimes should do a story on this.

  • Natarajan

    I did not know about this Shiva Ayyadurai guy until and alas my wife read a tamil magazine (Tamil is an Indian language which is the mother tongue of this guy as well as me! and we are called as Tamilians in India!) and thanks to this guy we have had a dispute for the past 1 hour. Shiva’s claim at best is ludicrous. Now who cares who invented Email. Are we talking about a name? If two computers got to talk that is networking. Certainly a state of the art technology. When they talk if the application on the top is clumsy or sweet, if it is allowing certain features or not, makes the application better from a selling point but well that is no “state of the art” and certainly not any invention or discovery.
    Unfortunately in today’s so called fake geek world a Zuckerberg becomes famous for a Facebook then obviously there are fools thinking Zuckerberg is a Newton or an Einstein. Before that there were fools who thought Bill Gates was an Aryabhatta. Unfortunately Gates, Zuckerberg and our great Shiva are just creators of applications on top of a base. While an OS is more fundamental and so gates is certainly better (rather Paul Allen) Zuckerberg is like an artist using a paint and Shiva looks like an even more shadier guy who claims that he created Email.
    Honestly nobody can create Email beyond the fact that Arpanet allowed communication and that meant applications on top of it could communicate and the level of the ability to communicate by the application lets its survival. There are snobs who think TCP/IP is everything. Even those can be called as brighter than Zuckerberg and certainly Shiva. While designing any protocol is worth a Doctorate it is not an invention. Unfortunately I know folks who knew a set of socket calls and thought they knew TCP/IP because of that and so they are great.The story can go on and on and I will just talk about tamilians.
    There was a guy called as Ramar Pillai. He said he had found a way to get petroleum from certain leaves. This was way back in 70s/80s. Until it was proved that he was a bluff. There are scores of tamilians like Ramar and Shiva who claim tall for some local reasons of publicity. Unfortunatley Shiva sounds atleast educated (well shows how MIT takes any donkey!!) and unlike Ramar is an educated bluffer. The story can be extended from Tamil context to Indian context. While Infosys was a great venture and earned millions for its founders, Narayanamurthy was so hard up to try to be the President of India (la Schwarzenegger). Then his junior in Infosys one Nilekani is out to get the Indian govt with a project for UID (an identity card). What stupifies me is that Narayanamurthy and Nilekani are educated, very successful and have made money beyond their needs. They are pretty famous; yet want more fame. The story goes on and on. So it is no coincidence that a Shiva wants famous for something.
    What hurts me is, who the fuck cares about who invented Email? We just use it. I dont know who “invented” firefox (if I can say such shit!) and then who invented the screen that I am typing on and then who invented the words I am typing….ouch…I am feeling the pain.
    Shiva Ayyadurai will do better to be happy with what he has done in life. Why have his name written in history? After death that name wont be carried upwards! Just that many Indian politicians want statues for them and they feel that is great. Unfortunately what happens is that those statues serve as a place for birds to drop their faeces. I think the scenario is just that.
    Nowhere am I saying this ends with Indians. It is true about Americans and the rest of the world. Only that the intelligence to come up with as absurd an invention as Herbal Petrol of Ramar Pillai or of “inventing” Email by Shiva Ayyadurai is genuinely special. You Americans need to learn from Indians, particularly Tamilians how to create fame out of thin air. ROTFL.

    • MandailaOruKuttu

      I think you need to research this more before opening your mouth.

      >Honestly nobody can create Email beyond the fact that Arpanet allowed communication

      If 2 plates come together to create friction and stop a wheel from spinning does it mean brakes were invented?

  • Shiva Modi

    It’s not a good idea to use a technology invented by such a moron. Any alternatives?

  • MandailaOruKuttu

    >Honestly nobody can create Email beyond the fact that Arpanet allowed communication

    If 2 plates come together to create friction and stop a wheel from spinning does it mean brakes were invented?

  • Delondi Ngoma Kintaudi

    This is a horrible article. Sure he may be arrogant (he was only 14 when he invented email) but he’s right. I visited http://www.inventorofemail.com/ and the guy invented email. All these old revisionists trying to discredit him is downright sad and enraging. I can understand why people want to take credit for his work, but everything before his program was more or less simple text messaging. This guy developed a full fledged email system (Inbox, Outbox, forwarding, etc) at the age of 14…hopefully he’s able to put in work with the USPS….

  • Daiyu Hurst

    The earliest known email system was written by Tom Van Vleck and the late Noel Morris for the CTSS (Compatible Time Sharing System) in 1965. See http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/did-my-brother-invent-e-mail-with-tom-van-vleck-part-one/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

  • Some Where

    Boston Magazine can’t even hide behind laziness on this one. There is no reputable disagreement about the invention of email. Ayyadurai had nothing to do with it whatsoever. Giving credence to his fraudulent claims only serves to spread misinformation. Shame on Boston Magazine.

  • pyrosphere

    There is a deeper issue here than whom is right, and that is that this dispute has not progressed in as civil a manner as it could have.

    This sort of dispute should be solved by willingness of all sides to be open with regard to the evidence and their particular arguments, allowing facts to be made public and to speak for themselves. Instead Shiva’s detractors have chosen to defame him personally and divert attention from him.

    That is not the way any man whom is both honest and honorable, should proceed.

  • joe

    “Shiva is the lord of Creation and Destruction in Hindu religion …” interesting. Is that his sister airing her ignorance?

    • Anmol@MIT

      Hardly surprising. Looks like it runs in the family.