In this century, where communication flows seamlessly across the digital realm, it’s easy to take technologies like email for granted. But have you ever wondered who is behind email creation?
Who is the inventor of email, and when was email invented? The story about the inventor of email is a good one, with controversy, lawsuits and more. Not taking sides here, but let’s see who the candidates are for the title of inventor of email. Here’s some information that I have found.
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Inventor of Email #1: Ray Tomlinson
Ray Tomlinson is the most widely acknowledged figure credited with the invention of email. While the name might not readily resonate with all, it is carved in email history.
In 1971, Tomlinson held the role of an engineer within a U.S. defence contracting firm, contributing to the evolution of ARPANET, the precursor to today’s internet. Tomlinson wanted to find a way to send messages between computers using this network.
The Creation of the ‘@’ Symbol
Tomlinson’s breakthrough came when he developed a way to differentiate between the user’s name and the computer they were using. He needed a symbol to separate the two, and that’s when the iconic “@” symbol debuted.
The “@” symbol served a dual purpose: not only did it separate the user’s identity from the computer, but it also coined the notion of the user’s presence “at” the computer.
With this innovation, Tomlinson is said to have sent the first-ever “email” in 1971. It is worth noting, however, that the terminology “email” had yet to be coined.
While Ray Tomlinson is widely credited with sending the first electronic message using the “@” symbol and creating what we see now as a standardized format for email, other individuals have claimed to be the inventors of email as well. Let’s learn more.
Who invented email: Ray Tomlinson
When was email invented: 1971
Inventor of Email #2: V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai
One of the most notable controversies surrounding the invention revolves around Shiva Ayyadurai, who, in 1978, developed a computer program called “EMAIL” while still in school. Amazing, isn’t it?
Ayyadurai’s system allowed users to send electronic messages within the same computer system. Notably, he secured a trademark for the term “EMAIL.”
So, what is the difference between Ray Tomlinson’s invention and Shiva Ayyadurai’s? Ayyadurai’s system was designed for local communication within a single system, unlike the networked “email” communication that Ray Tomlinson was working on.
Important to mention here, Ayyadurai sought and obtained a copyright for his program. United States Copyright Office issued a Certificate of Registration for his creation in 1982.
V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai has actively promoted his version of events and has laid legal claims to be named as the person who invented email. His assertions have not only sparked public discourse but have also ignited legal disputes. To delve further into his perspective and arguments, you can explore the content on the website InventorOfEmail.com.
Who invented email: V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai
When was email invented: 1978
Email Inventors #3: Noel Morris and Tom Van Vleck
Did Tom Van Vleck and Noel Morris invent email? While Tom Van Vleck and Noel Morris are not typically associated with the title of email inventors, their story is worth sharing. Tom and Noel, both MIT graduates, collaborated and shared a computer during the 1960s.
Notably, in 1965, they stumbled upon a memo proposing the concept of a “mail command.” This notion caught their attention, and upon further investigation, they discovered that no one had yet undertaken this endeavor. Van Vleck and Morris recognized the potential.
The program they constructed was subsequently integrated into MIT systems, providing a means for individuals sharing computers to communicate by leaving messages. It is worth noting that their command facilitated communication within the same computer and did not entail the transmission of messages between different computers. Thus, this limitation has led some to discount their story as inventors of email.
And even if Tom Van Vleck and Noel Morris may not be universally acknowledged as email creators, their contribution is worth mentioning. You can read more on Email on Acid blog.
Who invented email: Tom Van Vleck and Noel Morris
When was email invented: 1965
When was Email Invented?
As you see, different dates can be attributed to when the email was invented:
- 1965 and Tom Van Vleck and Noel Morris
- 1971 and Ray Tomlinson
- 1978 and V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai
Email Invention to Modern Email
In summary, various inventors, developers, and standardization efforts have collectively contributed to the evolution of email from its early beginnings to the sophisticated and versatile communication tool it is today. Each contribution addressed different aspects of email functionality, usability, security, and accessibility, leading to the development of the modern email concept. I thank them deeply for giving us email.