[SIGCIS-Members] Resources on Ayyadurai saga

Guy Fedorkow guy.fedorkow at gmail.com
Thu Jan 5 11:30:32 PST 2017

  As I remember from the last round, the disagreement seemed to be over
the definition of "email", wasn't it?  I don't think there was a denial
that messages were sent between computer terminals prior to the plucky
young contributor's work, but that only after that point did the
technology truly deserve the appellation "EMAIL", as allegedly proven by
the grant of copyright?
  It does seem like there's been a certain fluidity in choosing whether
the argument of the day is based on the name or the functional
  But a refutation might want to consider both factors, i.e., evidence
that the term email was in wide use, and that the claimed functionality
(beyond just sending a message, although I don't remember what it was)
was in use prior to the alleged invention.

On 1/5/2017 12:56 PM, Thomas Haigh wrote:
> Thanks Dave,
> The other advice I have for anyone commenting on this case is to keep
> the argument simple.
> There are a lot of invention controversies along the lines of “Big
> famous company X says that it invented technology Y in (date 2), but
> actually plucky inventor Z had previously come up with the same
> technology in (date 1). Because date 1 is earlier than date 2 we
> should remember plucky inventor Z as the true inventor of Y, despite
> the PR and legal resources of company X which denied him recognition.”
> That’s the narrative that Ayyadurai is telling about himself, and
> reporters are liable to turn it into an Ayyadurai vs. Tomlinson
> contest. Discussion of such claims head in the direction of debates on
> whether plucky inventor Z’s simple prototype really counts as
> inventing the technology.
> What’s different about this case is that plucky inventor Z claims to
> have invented email in either 1980 or, more recently, in 1978 (and has
> shown code snippets that appears to come from 1982). Whereas
> historians already knew that simple electronic mail systems were in
> use at MIT in 1965, that electronic mail was sent over what became the
> Internet in 1971, that spam was sent in 1978, that Xerox had a
> recognizably modern GUI client by that time etc. So the features of
> Ayyadurai’s system are not the important thing in assessing his claim
> to be “the inventor of email.” I have no reason to doubt that he
> produced a perfectly good local email system. But Ayyadurai is only
> “the inventor of email” if nothing done prior to 1978 (or 1980 or
> 1982) was email.  In other words, he’s trying to use the classic
> “plucky suppressed inventor” narrative even though his date 1 is many
> years later than the established date 2.
> To rebut this claim one doesn’t need to designate any individual as
> THE inventor of email, merely to reiterate the historical consensus
> that email is a synonym for electronic mail and that electronic mail
> was in use prior to 1978 (or 1980 or 1982). However smart and likeable
> you are, you can’t invent something that’s already been invented.
> Best wishes,
> Tom
> *From:*dave.walden.family at gmail.com [mailto:dave.walden.family at gmail.com]
> *Sent:* Thursday, January 05, 2017 10:02 AM
> *To:* Thomas Haigh <thomas.haigh at gmail.com>
> *Cc:* Christine Finn <christine.finn at gmail.com>; David Golumbia
> <dgolumbia at gmail.com>; Sigcis <members at sigcis.org>
> *Subject:* Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Resources on Ayyadurai saga
> Maybe the document should be something like a friend-of-court brief
> that is provided to the defense attorney rather than a public document
> and the court if the case ever goes to court.  There is plenty of time
> for public documents later.  I would think that passing Tom's list
> below to the defense attorney would already be useful.
> Best regards, Dave
>  http://walden-family.com/bbn/email-invention.html (not updated in
> several years)
> Sent from my iPad

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