[SIGCIS-Members] Resources on Ayyadurai saga

Thomas Haigh thomas.haigh at gmail.com
Thu Jan 5 07:46:23 PST 2017

Sounds like good idea. I’m busy with some other projects right now, and in any event it would be good to have somebody else take the lead on this for a while – make it more apparent to casual observers that there is a consensus in the history of computing community on this.


Here are some resources that might be useful for someone thinking of writing on this issue:


·               http://www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai  - my main page (includes links to various video and media content that would look good in a blog post, including a Xerox video). This tries to document and evaluate every historical claim made by Ayyadurai. 

·               http://www.tomandmaria.com/Tom/Writing/CACM-SevenLessons.pdf my CACM article with lessons to be learned from the initial part of the case. This is more of a general reflection on what was going on from a media narrative viewpoint.

·               http://www.inventorofemail.com/  Ayyadurai’s own site

·               http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2012/05/shiva-ayyaduri-email-us-postal-service/   Boston globe article – not 100% reliable, but if you read to the end carefully you’ll get the right idea.

·               https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140901/07280928386/huffpo-publishes-bizarre-misleading-factually-incorrect-multi-part-series-pretending-guy-invented-email-even-though-he-didnt.shtml  One of a number of solid Techdirt posts debunking Ayyadurai, this one dealing with the 2014 effort to push a misleading “History of Email” series focused exclusively on Ayyadurai.

·               https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=shiva+ayyadurai.Other Techdirt posts from this link, including one quoting me: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140903/18514728409/huffington-post-finally-responds-stands-its-completely-bogus-totally-debunked-history-email-series.shtml 

·               https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/omblog/post/origins-of-e-mail-my-mea-culpa/2012/03/01/gIQAiOD5kR_blog.html  Washington Post ombudsman admitting that the story was unfounded

·               http://www.tomandmaria.com/Tom/Writing/HistoriesOfTheInternetDRAFT.pdf  Introduction to special issue of I&C on Internet History in which we mention Ayyadurai’s case as an example of an attempt to fill in the gap between people’s ordinary experience and the ARPANET story. Example of a way to acknowledge appeal of the Ayyadurai narrative without endorsing its claims.


Resources on the actual history of email include


*         Janet Abbate’s Inventing the Internet

*         Craig Partridge’s Annals paper, “The Technical Development of Internet Email.” This is the best overview of the actual development of modern email. 

*         My chapter in The Internet and American Business has some material on non-Internet email and how it was eventually assimilated: http://www.tomandmaria.com/Tom/Writing/ProtocolsForProfitDRAFT.pdf.


Best wishes,




From: Members [mailto:members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] On Behalf Of Christine Finn
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2017 9:09 AM
To: David Golumbia <dgolumbia at gmail.com>
Cc: Sigcis <members at sigcis.org>
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Shiva/Gawker, also AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHH


I'd be happy to help with this. If we can craft something I'd be pleased to help reach a wider audience. I am already in touch with the UK Sunday Times - I contribute to them - and can make time to help with this, I don't have the tech expertise you all have, but can tell the story for the general public.

all best



On 5 January 2017 at 09:56, David Golumbia <dgolumbia at gmail.com <mailto:dgolumbia at gmail.com> > wrote:



"This is a historic victory for truth," declared Dr. Ayyadurai. "Americans have no tolerance for fake news, lies


i mean, it's by far not the most offensive part of this story, but this statement leapt out at me--you coulda fooled me, and PT Barnum, and every "reality show" producer, and Facebook, and, and...



David Golumbia
dgolumbia at gmail.com <mailto:dgolumbia at gmail.com> 

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