[SIGCIS-Members] "Inventor of Email" campaign targets Ray Tomlinson, "racist" journalists, reality

Dag Spicer dspicer at computerhistory.org
Tue Mar 8 08:32:18 PST 2016

Just when you think SA can’t sink any lower… and now playing the race card.

An indication perhaps that he’s decided he can longer defend his other lines of argument?

He’s the Donald Trump of Email — careless with his language (“lynching??”), self-absorbed, unconcerned with facts, and pandering, like a technological Rasputin, to people’s old wounds (in this case colonialism/racism).

Rally appreciate these updates Tom.  They give us the tools to speak about this if we are ever asked.

Let’s keep up the fight!

Dag Spicer
Senior Curator
Computer History Museum
Editorial Board, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
1401 North Shoreline Boulevard
Mountain View, CA 94043-1311

Tel: +1 650 810 1035
Fax: +1 650 810 1055

On Mar 8, 2016, at 7:56 AM, Thomas Haigh <thaigh at computer.org<mailto:thaigh at computer.org>> wrote:


Perhaps predictably, Ray Tomlinson’s recent death has prompted a new publicity push by Shiva Ayyadurai, the self-proclaimed “inventor of email.” (Backstory at http://www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai). Here are some recent tweets from his wife Fran Drescher, best known as “The Nanny”: “Thank you. Raytheon are plagiarists and liars. Big biz w/o integrity! The worst of the worst! Low roadsters,” and “PO'd! Ray Tomlinson WRONGLY credited 4 email whn EVERY1 honest knos Shiva Ayyadurai @va_shiva<https://twitter.com/va_shiva> invented, has copyright &is a victim of racism.” Also “Th larger issue is the oppression of people of color. There is a narrative in America that white washes innovation. That's the real issue!” Ayyadurai himself has tweeted “White journalists since 2012 have joined in the lynching and whitewashing of facts on #email<https://twitter.com/hashtag/email?src=hash>. I challenge all and any to a f2f debate !!”

The new push is reported in a Fortune blog piece, http://fortune.com/2016/03/07/who-really-invented-email/, which quotes SIGCIS at length. (I like its description of us as “an organization comprised of many prominent Internet historians and college professors” rather more than the “internet cabal” description used by Boston Magazine).

Ayyadurai seems to be getting almost entirely uncritical coverage in leading Indian publications, including

•         http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/who-invented-email-ray-tomlinson-or-shiva-ayyadurai/article8323987.ecehttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/On-Mahashivaratri-email-pioneer-Shiva-Ayyadurai-prays-for-recognition/articleshow/51297305.cmshttp://indianexpress.com/article/technology/tech-news-technology/the-inventor-of-email-is-still-alive-says-india-born-scientist/

There’s a somewhat more nuanced, but still not entirely accurate, report (quoting SIGCIS) at http://thewire.in/2016/03/08/did-shiva-ayyadurai-invent-email-it-isnt-simple-and-youre-probably-missing-the-point-24149<http://thewire.in/2016/03/08/did-shiva-ayyadurai-invent-email-it-isnt-simple-and-youre-probably-missing-the-point-24149/#disqus_thread>.

So there’s fascinating story of historical techno nationalism developing here, in that Ayyadurai’s new focus on alleged racism as the only reason for disputing his claim to have invented email seems to be enough to win him widespread acceptance in India despite the obvious reality-based problems with claiming to have invented something that was already in widespread use.

Best wishes,


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