The History of Email

Originates in Newark, NJ, in 1978, when Shiva Ayyadurai, a 14-year old, dark-skinned, lower-caste, Indian immigrant boy, working at the University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey wrote over 50,000 lines of code to invent the world’s first full-scale electronic emulation of the interoffice, inter-organizational mail system consisting of: Inbox, Outbox, Folders, the Memo, Attachments, etc., naming the program “email,” defining email as we all experience today, for which he received the first Copyright for “Email,” in 1982, from the United States government, officially recognizing him as the inventor of email.

image

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

“The efforts to belittle the innovation of a 14-year-old child should lead to reflection on the larger story of how power is gained, maintained, and expanded, and the need to encourage, not undermine, the capacities for creative inquiry that are widely shared and could flourish, if recognized and given the support they deserve. The angry reaction to the news of his invention of EMAIL and the steps taken to belittle the achievement are most unfortunate. They suggest an effort to dismiss the fact that innovation can take place by anyone, in any place, at any time. And they highlight the need to ensure that innovation must not be monopolized by those with power — power which, incidentally, is substantially a public gift.”

— Prof. Noam Chomsky, inventorofemail.com, April 2012

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