[SIGCIS-Members] Techdirt selling "I Invented Email" t-shirts (until tomorrow only?)

Justin Zobel jzobel at unimelb.edu.au
Tue Feb 28 13:48:39 PST 2017

I am deeply offended by this tee-shirt. It is clearly an attempt to infringe my invention, vmail. After I created vmail in 1987[*] (inspired by the vn newsreader, it was a screen-oriented wrapper on the Berkeley UNIX port of the RAND-MH electronic mail system), it was quickly adopted by a large number of people, and then just as quickly dropped when its extensive technical limitations became apparent. Also I was unaware of the very similar elm, created a year earlier. Nonetheless, I do feel that in a very real sense I created vmail first, in that it came before other systems that came later.

For the record, I would also like it known that in 1985 I wrote a very clever piece of software for the Mac classic that allowed one to draw graphics in a window on the Mac from a UNIX session running over telnet[**], thus allowing UNIX software to have a GUI. I no longer have the floppy disks on which ‘MacTermPlus’ was developed, but I regard it as having been the retrospective inspiration for SunOS windowing, which I believe was introduced in 1983.


[*] I actually did this. It seems that people did use it - I couldn’t keep up with the bug–fix/enhancement requests and retired from maintaining it in 1989. From the source code, it appears that at that date I was still using the terminology ‘mail’, not ‘e-mail’ (as in RAND, http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/notes/2009/N3017.pdf) or ‘email’. So, would it be regarded as an email system?

[**] I actually did this too. It was really, really slow. Ok, to be honest it was even slower than that.

From: Members on behalf of Thomas Haigh
Date: Wednesday, 1 March 2017 8:10 am
To: "members at sigcis.org<mailto:members at sigcis.org>"
Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] Techdirt selling "I Invented Email" t-shirts (until tomorrow only?)

Techdirt has a rather fun new line of merchandise, featuring the logo “I Invented Email” which, as its official announcement notes, allows you “to express your opinion on certain events.” Also mugs, hoodies, etc. Obviously I was hoping for something more like “Fake historians for Raytheon,” but what can you do?

[I Invented Email]


Best wishes,

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