Unraveling the Controversy: Who Really Invented Email?

The debate around who really invented email has been going on for years, and now on the 50th anniversary of its inception, it’s an opportune time to take a look at both sides of the story. We’ll explore the history behind the Internet, ARPANET, EMAIL, and other complexities that have contributed to the controversy, as well as analyze some of the evidence in favor of V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai’s claims and Raymond Tomlinson’s ARPANET program.

We’ll also consider the implications of the invention of email, industry reactions, popular opinion, and attempts to discredit one side over the other. With over 3.9 billion email users globally, the conversation surrounding this supposedly revolutionary invention needs to be reexamined and finally resolved.


Since the 1970s, we have been using email to communicate with people from all around the world. But how did this technology originate? The development of the email system we use today can be traced back more than two decades prior to the invention of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). It was here that the influential programmer Raymond Tomlinson made an important contribution by using the “@” symbol to separate a person from the name of the computer.

In 1971, Tomlinson wrote the first-ever email program and sent the first message between two computers situated side-by-side. This pioneering work was later recognized by independent sources to have coined the term “email.”

The Early Development of the Internet

The ARPANET was established in 1969 as the first self-sustaining packet-switched network of computers available to the public. The aim of the ARPANET was to connect universities and other departments through which information and communication could be both easily and quickly shared. Over the following years, great strides were made as advanced features were introduced, such as the ability to transfer text messages electronically.

However, most notably, Ray Tomlinson set out to solve the programming challenge of addressing messages to remote hosts on the network. Tomlinson had previously graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1965, and upon his hiring by ARPANET in 1971, he used email to distribute information about himself to everyone on the original ARPANET roster. His solution included several fields that remain integral to modern-day email systems, such as ‘To,’ ‘From,’ ‘CC,’ and ‘BCC.’

The Birth of the ARPANET

The ARPANET was key to the development of the internet and its associated applications, including email. Ray Tomlinson was one of the crucial figures in the invention process, having been involved since the start of the project. He personally worked on the architecture for an inter-organizational mail system and taught himself computer programming to achieve this feat.

Using his technical knowledge, creativity, and innovation, Tomlinson went on to produce a functioning version of an email in 1971, thus making him the inventor of email. Not only are the allegations to the contrary highly controversial and contentious, but over the past few years, Tomlinson has been met with harsh personal and racist attacks. Therefore, it is essential to remember the impact that Tomlinson had on the creation of the email system, after all, he has put in.

Although there are several names linked to this innovative communication tool, there is no denying that Tomlinson created the basis of the email system that hundreds of millions of people have continued to use in their daily lives for more than two decades since he wrote his program. It is undeniable that Tomlinson’s “@” symbol to separate a person’s name from the host computer was a groundbreaking step forward, influencing the modern-day use of emails and giving us a glimpse into the early days of the internet.

In conclusion, recognizing Raymond Tomlinson as the inventor of email is essential, regardless of any minor details which succeeding inventors may have brought to the field. He laid the building blocks for what proved to be one of the most revolutionary communication tools seen in human history.

The Ayyadurai Story

V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai has been credited with inventing the first electronic mail system, along with his claim of inventing email, in 1978 when he was a fourteen-year-old prodigy at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).

Since gaining much press coverage and the support of industry insiders, the controversy over the ‘inventor of email’ began as soon as Time Magazine and The Washington Post stated that Ayyadurai had invented a program that used the bcc, cc, to, and from fields.

Following his case against Gawker Media for $35 million, claiming defamation and slander over its statements that “Shiva Ayyadurai did not invent email,” it is fair to say that the debate over who truly invented email continues to spark new interest from media outlets.

Ayyadurai holds four degrees from MIT, is a Full Bright Scholar, an MIT-Lemelson Award Finalist, and a Westinghouse Science Talent Search Honours Award recipient.

In 2009, he was employed as a senior scientist for Computer Systems Modelling at India’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), where he attempted something without fear of failing.

In 1994, Ayyadurai went on to found the technology company Millennium Cybernetics, which was based on the idea of cybernetics and its union of both natural and artificial systems.

It all started in 1978 when he was recruited by UMDNJ and Dr. Leslie P. Michelson to work on programming assignments.

To replicate the features of an interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail system, Ayyadurai developed a software program that had the ability to use Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Memos (To, From, Date, Subject, Body, Cc, Bcc:), Attachments, Folders, Compose, Forward, Reply, Address Book, Groups, Return Receipt, and Sorting which could be used without any knowledge in computing systems.

His EchoMail Program was copyrighted in 1982, and the website for EchoMail has launched shortly after.

The accusations of Tomlinson have since emerged since the Smithsonian news about Ayyadurai, and since then, he has been subject to personal and even racist attacks.

Historians such as Thomas Haigh and David Crocker, as well as other industry insiders, have disputed Ayyadurai’s account of inventing email, even though his program was arguably the first to use the BCC, CC, To, and From fields.

After the settlement between Ayyadurai and Gawker Media in 2013, false claims about “email” still exist, and the debate continues on who invented email by way of their own invention or repurposing of earlier technologies like CCITT X.400.

The Rise of EMAIL

The rise of the email was established in the late 1970s when V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai was given a project by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and Dr. Leslie P. Michelson to program a software that replicated the features of an interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail system. Ayyadurai wanted the interface of his program to be simple enough so that no expertise in computer systems was needed for a person to be able to use it efficiently.

He initially thought of the software similar to how a digitized version of sorting through physical mail works, including features like Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Memo (To, From, Date, Subject, body, Cc, Bcc:), Attachments, Folders, Compose, Forward, Reply, Address Book, Groups, Return Receipt, and Sorting. Eventually, his EchoMail program was patented in 1982 with all these features intact, which was notably the first to use BCC, CC, To, and From fields.

In addition to his programming capabilities, Ayyadurai has a number of impressive credentials to his name, with four degrees from MIT, being a Full Bright Scholar, an MIT-Lemelson Award Finalist, and a Westinghouse Science Talent Search Honours Award recipient.

He also gained attention from his international employers, such as India’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), when he pushed boundaries and attempted something without fear of failing. From there, he established the technology company Millennium Cybernetics in 1994, which focused primarily on the emergence of cybernetics – the combination of both organic and synthetic systems, essentially visualizing the connection between them.

The Accusations Against Ray Tomlinson

After V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai announced his invention of email, industry insiders began to accuse him of falsely claiming to be the inventor of the email and began attacking him, some going as far as to make personal and even racist comments.

Historians such as Thomas Haigh, David Crocker, and others were firm believers of ARPANET inventor Ray Tomlinson, who sent the first message using ARPANET in 1971 as the inventor of email, rather than Ayyadurai’s 1978 invention. They dismissed Ayyadurai’s EchoMail as not being significant as it was a closed system, as opposed to Tomlinson’s open system used by the ARPANET.

Tomlinson was receiving most of the credit for the invention of email for many years before Ayyadurai came forth with his EchoMail news, leading to criticisms from industry insiders. For instance, Crocker noted that regardless of the features in Ayyadurai’s 1979 program, they already appeared in IWIF in 1976/77. Gawker Media fueled the criticisms as they posted articles saying, “Shiva Ayyadurai did not invent email,” resulting in Ayyadurai suing Gawker Media in 2012 for defamation and slander.

The two parties reached a settlement soon after in which the article was taken down and set the stage for more discussion in regards to who invented email – whether Ayyaduari’s system was more “accurate” to the general definition of email or if it was just a modified version of current messaging systems.

False claims about “email” are still widely debated today as historians continue to settle the dispute between Ayyadurai and Tomlinson. Even though Tomlinson operated under an open system, and Ayyadurai’s system was a closed system, perhaps better for organizations, maybe it is better to accept both stories as valid in their own right and explore what brought us to our present understanding of email today.

Who Invented Email? The Debate Continues

When discussing the invention of email, a debate has arisen between Ray Tomlinson and V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai over who can truly claim to have invented it. Tomlinson is widely credited with writing the first software program to enable inter-organizational mail systems, while Ayyadurai claims he developed a program in 1978 that he called “EMAIL.” However, historians dispute this account, citing the use of email prior to his program.

Ayyadurai has attracted public attention for his claims of inventing email, and industry insiders have weighed in on the debate based on their own opinions, but what is at the center of this controversy? Who really invented email? Since 1982 when an article in Smithsonian Magazine described Ayyadurai’s creation of the first electronic messaging system, our understanding of the birth of email has changed, and the feud between Tomlinson and Ayyadurai continues. False claims made by Ayyadurai, such as inventing the “@” sign, have been debunked, as well as some believing he exaggerates the scope of his work, attempting to take credit for aspects already in existence at the time.

Despite being widely accepted as the inventor of email, Tomlinson has not escaped criticism himself, being accused of copying other people’s ideas and receiving excessive recognition for his work. The debate is ultimately centered around whether or not Ayyadurai should receive official recognition from US Government for inventing the first interoffice mail system – each side brings valid arguments from technical features to reactions from historians/industry insiders – with popular opinion playing an important role in the resolution of this ongoing debate.

The Pros and Cons of Each Claim

Ray Tomlinson is widely credited with creating one of the first software programs for sending and receiving messages across an electronic mail system. His contribution was made in 1971 through his successful development of a system that enabled users to send messages between different computers within the ARPANET system. The recognition of his work led to him becoming known as ‘the inventor of email.’

On the other hand, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai claims to have created the first electronic mail system in 1978. This program, named “EMAIL,” was designed to serve university faculty and medical researchers who needed a better way to access and manage emails. He successfully gained recognition when a 1982 article in Smithsonian Magazine incorrectly credited Ayyadurai as the “inventor” of email; this despite the fact that many features of EMAIL had already appeared in prior electronic mail systems.

Both sides make valid points in the debate over who invented email. Tomlinson undeniably played a major role in advancing technology and deserves recognition for his work, whereas Ayyadurai made a significant addition to existing technology with the development of EMAIL. On the other hand, Ayyadurai has made numerous false claims regarding his role in inventing email, including the notion that he invented the “@” symbol. This has caused many experts to be highly critical of his claims while also questioning whether they qualify him to be recognized as the inventor of email.

The Role of Popular Opinion

Popular opinion has undoubtedly had a strong influence on the debate surrounding who invented email. On one hand, Ayyadurai has experienced a surge in popular support, with viral tweets and videos in celebration of his work. His supporters often cite the Smithsonian article in 1982 that erroneously credited him as the inventor of email, viewing it as an affirmation of his achievements.

However, this same popularity may have worked against him as well. In 2015, after Gawker Media published a series of reports detailing how the Smithsonian article was wrongfully credited to Ayyadurai and the later Sony Pictures movie about his alleged invention, he initiated legal action against the company. Ultimately, though, the court ruled in favor of Gawker based largely on evidence from industry insiders attesting to the falsity of his claims. Therefore, it is clear that popular opinion, even if it initially provided Ayyadurai with a sense of validation, ultimately did little to help his case.

At the end of the day, the key question remains unanswered: who invented email? Experts such as Thomas Haigh and David Crocker have stated that neither Tomlinson nor Ayyadurai possesses enough proof to make a legitimate claim to being the inventor. Nevertheless, both stories deserve to be heard, as they are both integral to the history of email.

Moving forward then, perhaps it would be best to accept both stories, recognize the contribution of both innovators, and celebrate the anniversary of the invention of email.

Should We Let Go of the Past?

As we explore the mystery of who invented email, we can look back at its history to gain insight into what the future may hold. An email has revolutionized communication and business, providing unprecedented efficiency and convenience – like a lightning bolt that illuminates our lives with instantaneous connection. Its impact is undeniable; it’s as if an invisible bridge was built between us all, allowing us to traverse time and space in ways never before imagined.

Moving Forward With Email

Since its invention, email has become an integral part of our lives, revolutionizing the way we communicate. From its humble beginnings as a simple messaging system to its current status as a powerful tool for communication and collaboration, email has come a long way. But what are the implications of this technology? And how can it be used to benefit us?

Email is essentially an electronic version of traditional mail that allows users to send messages over the internet. It was first developed in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson, who chose @ symbol for use in addressing emails. Since then, email has evolved significantly, with features such as attachments and encryption being added over time.

The implications of email are far-reaching; it enables people from all around the world to connect instantly and share information quickly and easily. This makes it ideal for business communications or keeping up with friends and family living abroad. Additionally, emails can be stored indefinitely, which means important documents can be kept safe without taking up physical space or requiring manual filing systems.

Finally, there are many benefits associated with using email, including increased efficiency when sending large amounts of data or communicating with multiple people at once; improved organization through sorting emails into folders; cost savings due to reduced printing costs; security measures such as encryption which protect sensitive information from unauthorized access; and convenience since you don’t have to wait for postal delivery times or worry about lost letters getting into the wrong hands!

In conclusion, an email is an invaluable tool that has changed how we communicate forever – allowing us to stay connected no matter where we are in the world while also providing numerous practical advantages like cost savings and enhanced security measures. With so much potential on offer only the desktop site, it’s easy to see why this technology continues to remain popular today!

The Impact of the Invention of Email

In addition to its convenience, email is often referred to as the “lifeblood” of modern communication. However, it can also be a double-edged sword with potential pitfalls that should not be overlooked. An email has blurred the lines between our personal and professional lives like a smudged watercolor painting; we must consider this when moving forward with this technology.

On the one hand, email offers many advantages, such as quick delivery of messages, easy access to documents and files from any location in the world, and cost savings on postage or printing costs. On the other hand, there are some drawbacks associated with email, including security risks due to hacking attempts or viruses embedded in attachments, privacy concerns related to data collection by third parties for marketing purposes, and an overload of information which can lead to distraction or procrastination.

As we continue using email for both personal and professional reasons, it is important that we remain mindful of these implications so that we can make informed decisions about how best to use this powerful tool without sacrificing our safety or productivity.

The Past and Future of Email

More than five decades ago, email technology was born. Since then, it has revolutionized the way we communicate and interact with one another. But how far have we come since 1971? What can be expected in the years ahead?

In its early days, email was a simple tool used to send messages between two people. Over time, however, it has become much more sophisticated and powerful. Today’s emails are capable of sending attachments such as photos and documents; they also allow users to organize their inboxes into folders for easy access. Furthermore, many companies now use email marketing campaigns to reach out to potential customers or clients.

The future of email looks even brighter than its past! We can expect emails that are faster than ever before – almost instantaneous – as well as increased security measures that will protect our data from malicious actors. Additionally, artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to play an increasingly important role in helping us manage our inboxes by automatically sorting through incoming messages and flagging those that require attention first.

The Evolution of Email

The email was first revolutionized in 1971 when Ray Tomlinson sent the first electronic message through the ARPANET computers. This was followed by several key milestones over the years as the platform continued to evolve. In 1978, for example, Seymour Papert invented cc, bcc, and addressing options, making it possible to send email messages to multiple recipients simultaneously.

By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Microsoft Outlook Express and IBM’s Lotus Notes products were introducing people to the world of contact management software, allowing them to easily manage their contacts. In 1996, HTML email began replacing plain text emails and filters, and anti-spam services like Eudora and SpamCop started to emerge.

The introduction of webmail services such as Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and Gmail further expanded the global client base. Social media also released platforms specifically tailored to email campaigns, such as Facebook Lead Ads or Twitter Promoted Messages. Later on, tight integrations between email, mobile devices, and other technologies made automation, tracking, and customization much easier than ever before.

What Does the Future Hold?

Today’s digital environment is a rapidly advancing arena that continues to change with every passing day. There are now more than 3 billion users worldwide and more than 281 billion emails are sent daily. This number is expected to increase even more as new technologies and trends appear. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities now allow companies to segment audiences automatically and personalize messages and content. Additionally, the introduction of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and voice commands may soon become connected with email in order to create an even more interactive user experience.

The use of email verification has also been gaining traction as organizations look to validate customer data and reduce address errors. As a result, email delivery and engagement levels are expected to improve, and businesses can look forward to improved targeting accuracy.

Ultimately, the combination of innovative technologies, user base growth, and features, including email personalization, tracking, and automation makes it clear that the true potential of email has not yet been reached.

Interested in email topic? Here you can check other articles about it!


As we wrap up the discussion about who invented email, it is evident that this topic has attracted its share of controversy and debate over the past several decades. From arguments between V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai and Ray Tomlinson to scrutiny by industry insiders and historians, the invention of email has been heavily disputed with no clear consensus. While there are valid points that can be made for both inventors, the popular opinion continues to sway the debate, making it difficult to definitively say who deserves recognition for the invention of email.

On the other hand, one thing remains certain: the invention of email technology has revolutionized our lives. What began as a simple electronic messaging program has now transformed into much more, with features such as webmail services, tailored campaigns, and global collaboration improving everyday communication. We have seen an increase in cybersecurity threats as well as information overload, but these challenges aim to inspire new levels of innovation in the future.

Overall, the evolution of email technology is only just beginning, and what comes next looks even brighter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who actually invented email?

Ray Tomlinson is credited with inventing email in 1971, while a 14-year-old boy, Shiva Ayyadurai, began his work on the same system for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1978.
Ray Tomlinson enabled communications between users on different hosts connected to ARPANET, revolutionizing communication and laying the foundations for what would become the internet as we know it today.

Who invented email first, and when?

Ray Tomlinson is generally credited with the invention of email in 1971 for ARPANET, which later led to the creation of the internet.
In 1978, 14-year-old V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai developed a computer program he called “EMAIL” that replicated many features of the interoffice paper mail system.

Did shiva ayyadurai invent email?

Based on Shiva Ayyadurai’s registration of an email application for copyright in 1982 and the subsequent publication by Time Magazine in 2011, it appears that he is responsible for inventing email.

Who is the father of email?

Raymond Samuel Tomlinson is widely regarded as the Father of Email. He was an American computer programmer who implemented the first email program on the ARPANET system, the precursor to the modern internet, in 1971.
This groundbreaking innovation allowed for mail to be sent between users on different hosts connected to the internet, making him a pivotal figure in the history of modern communication.

Who is the real inventor of email?

Ray Tomlinson is widely recognized as the inventor of email in 1971, which was the first system able to send mail between users on different hosts connected to ARPANET.
This version has been challenged by V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, who asserts his invention of email in the late 1970s when he was a teen tech prodigy. However, Tomlinson remains the credited name behind the innovation of email.

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