[SIGCIS-Members] Tomlinson's quote on email invention - authenticated

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Tue Mar 8 09:47:57 PST 2016


I wouldn't call Ray Tomlinson, or anyone else, THE inventor of email. As you
can see below, in 2012 I got Tomlinson to confirm the authenticity of the
nice quote floating around the internet with his name on it: "Any single
development is stepping on the heels of the previous one and is so closely
followed by the next that most advances are obscured. I think that few
individuals will be remembered."

That is not false modesty on his part, but Tomlinson's own 1971 contribution
was certainly one of the most significant of the many steps leading towards
the Internet mediated standards-based email infrastructure over which you
are receiving this message. 

Tom

-----Original Message-----
From: Ray Tomlinson [mailto:RTomlinson at bbn.com]
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2012 3:29 PM
To: Dave Crocker 
Cc: Thomas Haigh <thaigh at computer.org>
Subject: Re: Pre-release draft of email history article to the Washington
Post.

>> I do have a question for Ray. I am planning to use the quote from 
>> http://www.nethistory.info/History%20of%20the%20Internet/email.html
>> that "Any single development is stepping on the heels of the previous 
>> one and is so closely followed by the next that most advances are 
>> obscured. I think that few individuals will be remembered."
>
>> Did he really say this? Is it being quoted from an earlier source.
>
> Yeah.  Great quotation.
>
> Ray?  Fess up!
Yes. I did say something like this. I believe it was in the context of
comparing internet advances with earlier advances like Bell's telephone. 
I don't remember to whom I said it and I can't find any email record. It may
have been by telephone.



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