30th Anniversary of EMAIL

Inventor of Email Launches Inner City Innovation Fund On 30th Anniversary of Email

NEWARK, N.J., Aug. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In 1978, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, then a 14-year-old kid, working in Newark, NJ at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) invented email. On August 30, 1982, four years later, the United States government officially recognized his invention with the issuance of the first U.S. Copyright for “EMAIL, The Computer Program for Electronic Mail System.”

Today, we recognize the 30th anniversary of email, and the home of email: Newark, NJ,” stated Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, who used the occasion to announce the founding of the Innovation Corps, which will be launched in Newark, NJ to award up to $100K in cash and services to two finalist teams of Newark high school students, enabling them to translate a tangible idea to a startup venture.

East Coast: 2 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
https://join.me/115-728-716    Dial In: 1.415.464.6999    Passcode: 115-728-716#
West Coast: 2 PM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)
https://join.me/686-889-107    Dial In: 1.862.367.5900    Passcode: 686-889-107#

In 1978, as detailed on http://www.inventorofemail.com, Shiva was challenged by his then supervisor Dr. Leslie P. Michelson at UMDNJ to create a full-scale electronic system that emulated the entire interoffice, inter-organizational paper-based mail system — a system of interlocked parts that consisted of a physical Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, the Memo (“To:”, “From:”, “Subject:”, “Bcc:”, “Cc:”, “Date:”, “Body:”), and processes such as Forwarding, Broadcasting, Attachments, Registered Mail, and others.

This was email — as we all know and experience today.

Earlier, Time Magazine reported on “The Man Who Invented Email” and the Huffington Post reported on the “29th Anniversary of Email.” Today, August 30, 2012 marks the official 30th anniversary of the invention of email. Prior to 1978, neither the term “email” nor email existed. What did exist were rudimentary methods for exchanging electronic text messages, dating back to the telegraph. This was not email.

In fact, as late as 1977, a conscious decision was made not to create email. Such a creation was seen as too difficult of a problem. In a historical document written on December 1977, leading researcher David Crocker summarized then current research goals in electronic messaging, stating, “At this time, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system.” Moreover, the Oxford English Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary clearly put the origin of “email” as 1979 and 1982 respectively, one to three years after its invention in 1978. In 2011, the AP Style book agreed that “email” (no hyphen) as the standard, as originally defined by Shiva in 1978.

The facts are clear and indisputable. Email was created in Newark, NJ, a city that provided an incredible environment for innovation, despite the odds. Newark provided the grounds for a 14-year-old to exercise his creativity, develop his skills and make major contributions to the world.

Somewhere after Shiva’s work, others began using the term “email” to refer to their creations prior to 1978, which led to much confusion. A vocal minority of industry insiders cleverly used false claims even to confuse Wikipedia and others using such confusion to promote a false narrative that innovation is only possible within big universities, the military and large companies. They said that upper case “EMAIL” was not email, forgetting the fact that in FORTRAN, the programming language, which Shiva used to develop email, all program names were always entered in upper case. As Prof. Noam Chomsky said this was “… childish tantrums…” and that “[t]he 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….”

Dr. Leslie P. Michelson said, “There is a larger story here, one that should be evident by now. Innovation can take place any time, any place by anybody. The sooner we embrace this truth, the sooner our lives will be enriched by the thousands of other ‘Shivas’ that do not have the luxury of working in the established bastions of innovation, but nevertheless have the intellect and drive to make big contributions.”

About the International Center for Integrative Systems

The International Center for Integrative Systems, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was founded in 2007 to conduct research and education for the public on large-scale complex systems. ICIS hosts the EMAIL Lab as well as the Innovation Corps project. Dr. Ayyadurai and Dr. Michelson are founding members of the Innovation Corps project for spurring innovation in inner cities. Innovation Corps will be working with local business leaders, parents and teachers to implement the project’s goals.

Contact: Elizabeth Tsatkin | 203-464-2130 | elizabeth.tsatkin@dev.integrativesystems.org