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As email turns 32, inventor reaffirms his claim

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Indian American scientist invented e-mail 32 years ago

Washington: Know who is the inventor of email? The credit goes to an Indian-American VA Shiva Ayyadurai who received official recognition as the inventor of the computer programme for electronic mail system from the US government on August 30, 1982.

Studying at Livingston High School in New Jersey, Ayyadurai began his work on the email system for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

In 1978, aged 14, he developed a full-scale emulation of the interoffice mail system which he called “Email” and copyrighted in 1982.

However, the claims Ayyadurai made for the invention led to controversy over his place in the history of computer technology, with some insisting that work was being done on email-like technology by researchers before Ayyadurai, including those at ARPANET, the network which is widely regarded as the predecessor.

His detractors dismiss Ayyadurai has someone who was just given a copyright on the word email, saying similar systems had existed at least 10 years before the Indian-American claims to have ‘invented’ email.

But Huffington Post highlights a December 1997 report by David Crocker that makes it abundantly clear that no such work was being done:

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.

While others point to record of email-like messages that were sent in early 70s, Ayyadurai has defended his work.

“The reality is this: in 1978, there was a 14-year-old boy and he was the first to create electronic office system. He called it email, a term that had never been used before, and then he went and got official recognition by the US government,” he told the Huffington Post, referring to himself.

“The narrative there is what changes and shocks certain people who want to control the narrative that innovation can only take place under their bastions,” Ayyadurai said. “The truth is that the American dream is really about [the fact that] innovation can take place anytime, by anybody.” (Agencies)

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