[SIGCIS-Members] Resources on Ayyadurai saga

Christopher Leslie chris.leslie at nyu.edu
Tue Jan 24 07:49:02 PST 2017


Hi All,

Thanks for this interesting discussion and citations. It's clear that there
were people sending electronic mail messages even before there were digital
computers, as Paul points out. There is also documentation about the early
days of electronic messages from the 1970s.

Certainly there can always be more scholarship about these topics, and it's
important to recognize the collective effort that is behind innovation in
computing, but I am not sure it's worth trying to discredit Ayyadurai. If
nothing else, his circle seems to be interested in publicity, and attacking
his claim will simply create another opportunity for them to get back into
the news.

It seems to me that there are other, more pressing issues we could tackle
as a group. The new head of the FCC has raised some concern because he
might be opposed to net neutrality. The film Hidden Figures, which is
drawing huge audiences and has been nominated for an Oscar, is proof of a
widespread interest in diversity in the history of computing. These topics,
in my mind, seem more pressing than the claim that one person invented
email.

Chris

On Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 7:59 PM, Pierre MOUNIER-KUHN <mounier at msh-paris.fr>
wrote:

> Hi,
> Just to add footnotes to the chronicle of email, I just asked about early
> development and use of electronic mail on the list of Bull-GE and
> CII-Honeywell-Bull veterans. Among the first answers:
>
> • Claude Ducarouge :  "In late 1970-early1971, to integrate GCOS7 [one of
> the major OS under development within Honeywell Information Systems,
> ex-GEIS] we used the Boston Multics system with TTY33 consoles ( 2 or 3
> consoles). To communicate daily with the developers in Boston and to
> organize exchanges of files (shipment of  magnetic tapes through Air France
> pilots, processing in Boston and retrieval of printed results of
> compilations 24 h later at Orly airport), we exchanged messages between the
> TTY33s of Paris and Boston. Some texts started to be processed with the
> Worpro function on Multics to edit documents... And the messages would
> point at "attachments", to a path toward a file on the system.
>
> • Alain Bron, who worked in the early 1970s at the national champion CII
> on the large IRIS 80 computer, participated in the development of an OS
> dedicated to teleprocessing, Stratege, which "offered already multi-windows
> and a message functionnality of up to 160 characters".
> Note that, if we apply here the Shiva Ayyadurai logic, this Frenchman can
> claim to have invented Twitter 45 years ago – with 20 extra signs as a
> bonus.
>
> Hope this helps – at least to start a bright year,
> Pierre Mounier-Kuhn
>
> ------------------------------
> *De: *"Murray Turoff" <murray.turoff at gmail.com>
> *À: *"Ian S. King" <isking at uw.edu>
> *Cc: *"members" <members at sigcis.org>
> *Envoyé: *Lundi 23 Janvier 2017 05:54:23
> *Objet: *Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Resources on Ayyadurai saga
>
> GE had general time sharing internationally using BASIC a number of us
> internationally used it for "email"  we all had the same account access and
> an email identified who it was to in the title of the basic program which
> turned out to be a set of REM(ark) statements with what ever message we
> want to share internationally.
>
>
> On Sun, Jan 22, 2017 at 6:09 PM, Ian S. King <isking at uw.edu> wrote:
>
>> Another bit of interesting information I found while doing some research
>> for my dissertation, take a look at this oral history on the CHM site:
>> http://www.computerhistory.org/collections/catalog/102658003.  Warner
>> Sinback, in discussing his work with General Electric, talks about creating
>> an email system.  The timeframe is not clearly defined but it is obvious
>> from the text that it is prior to 1979, easily placed in the early 1970s
>> and perhaps as early as the late 1960s.
>> The body of 'prior art' accumulates.  It certainly seems that the idea of
>> email was a parallel evolution across the computer industry, not a point
>> event - and certainly not in 1979 (or whatever date Ayyadurai is claiming
>> this week).  -- Ian
>>
>> On Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 10:42 AM, Glenn Bugos <Glenn at momentllc.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>> Don’t think this tidbit has appeared on the list...A few years back
>>> there was a rock musical in London called Loserville.  It’s now closed,
>>> though American high schools are picking it up.  It is set in 1971,
>>> focusing on Michael Dork, a nerdy high school student confused by girls,
>>> with a tight group of friends, striving to invent email as his “one way
>>> ticket out of Loserville."
>>>
>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDUqgUylpVA
>>>
>>> Here’s a high school in Oregon, performing the last act of the play,
>>> where the brilliant, beautiful and underestimated Holly, blackmailed by the
>>> scion of military contractor Arch Systems, enjoys the Eureka moment of
>>> putting “@“ in the address (:45) then passes her secret along to her friend
>>> Michael (3:30). “After all this time/it seems so obvious/we’re making
>>> history/we’ll be notorious/so many sleepless nights/it never came to
>>> us/it’s so simple/it’s genius.”  Then “It’s the birth of the digital/God
>>> what a miracle/we are really living in the future now.”
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> Ian S. King, MSIS, MSCS, Ph.D. Candidate
>> The Information School <http://ischool.uw.edu>
>> Dissertation: "Why the Conversation Mattered: Constructing a
>> Sociotechnical Narrative Through a Design Lens
>>
>> Archivist, Voices From the Rwanda Tribunal <http://tribunalvoices.org>
>> Value Sensitive Design Research Lab <http://vsdesign.org>
>>
>> University of Washington
>>
>> There is an old Vulcan saying: "Only Nixon could go to China."
>>
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>
>
>
> --
>
>
>
>
>
> *please send messages to murray.turoff at gmail.com
> <murray.turoff at gmail.com>  do not use @njit.edu <http://njit.edu>
> addressDistinguished Professor EmeritusInformation Systems, NJIThomepage:
> http://is.njit.edu/turoff <http://is.njit.edu/turoff>*
>
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> _______________________________________________
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-- 
Christopher S. Leslie, Ph.D.
Co-Director and Lecturer, Science and Technology Studies
Faculty Fellow in Residence for Othmer Hall and Clark Street
Chair, IFIP History of Computing Working Group 9.7

NYU Tandon School of Engineering
5 MetroTech Center, LC 131
Brooklyn, NY 11201
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