Tech History Today – August 30, 2013

In 1885 – Gottlieb Daimler received a patent for adding an internal combustion engine to a bicycle to make the first gasoline-driven motorcycle.

In 1963 – A direct line of communication between the leaders of the USA and USSR, dubbed “The Hotline” began operation.

In 1969 – BBN delivered the first Interface Message Processor (IMP) to the Network Measurements Center at UCLA. It was built from a Honeywell DDP 516 computer with 12K of memory, and would be used in October to make the first Internet connection with Stanford. Graduate students Vinton Cerf, Steve Crocker, Bill Naylor, Jon Postel, and Mike Wingfield were charged with installation.

In 1982 – A copyright was issued to 16-year-old V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai for a computer program he called “EMAIL,” short for “electronic mail.” While Ayyadurai may not be considered the inventor of email he definitely deserves credit for establishing the name.

Like Tech History? Purchase Tom Merritt’s Chronology of Tech History at Merritt’s Books site.

One Response to “Tech History Today – August 30, 2013”

  1. arun ghani

    Thank you so much for your nice post bringing this news out.

    You may also want to take a look at the column on Huffington Post that just came out:

    I think you will find that Shiva did more than just coin the term “email.” He defined email itself, by creating “email,” which is the electronic version of the interoffice mail system.

    Prior to 1978, no one had done this, and in fact there was NO intention to do this. I say this not to incite some argument, but because the facts speak for themselves on this.

    If you read, The RAND report of December 1977, authored by none other than, David Crocker, a former BBN employee, he himself, makes this very clear:

    “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.” (Crocker, D., 1977)

    Shiva, that young 14-year-old boy, working in Newark, NJ, in 1978, only a few months after that RAND report, on the other hand had a very clear intention to create the electronic emulation of the inter-organizational, or interoffice mail system.

    He did “attempt” and successfully “did the impossible” by creating email, by writing 50,000 lines of code, to emulate the entire interoffice mail system at UMDNJ

    This is an idea that the big institutions, including BBN, of the time clearly found impossible and had no intention to pursue. Unfortunately, we still live in a classist world, where some find it hard to believe that a 14-year-old Indian immigrant kid working in Newark, NJ, in a relatively small institution called UMDNJ is lying. It is easy for us to accept that a young German, Mozart could be prodigy, but not an Indian.

    After Feb.16, 2012, when the Smithsonian accepted Shiva’s work with all of his documents, code and artifacts, then, industry insiders like Crocker, “computer historians” got very threatened and unleashed a racist and vicious campaign on Shiva.

    Some people said Shiva should be hung and beaten by his “curry-stained” finger nails, Crocker and others at Raytheon/BBN began publishing journal articles in so-called “scholarly” journals calling Shiva an imposter, fake, and even worse.

    All of this, if investigated, will show that Raytheon/BBN and their cronies were behind all of it. Raytheon/BBN had spent millions building up a false brand they were the “inventors of email,” and falsely promoting that the “@” logo is email. This branding has helped Raytheon/BBN, over its competition at General Dynamics and Northrop/Grumman, win lucrative cyber-security contracts from the government to spy on all us through email.

    What others created before Shiva was Text Messaging, and they should be recognized for this. But it is not email. This story is very similar to Filo Farnswoth.

    We all hope that it doesn’t take another 100 years for Shiva to get his just due. Any journalist who does a real investigation can win Pulitzer on this showing how American corruption — collusion between a big military contractor and an academic cabal of so-called “computer historians.”

    Thanks again for your Post

    -Arun Ghani