The Man Who Invented Email

Tech

If you’re reading this, you’re online and, as such, you probably have an email account. But have you ever wondered about the origins of email? It’s not exactly a cut-and-dried case, as various forms of electronic messaging have been around since the humble telegraph.

I had the opportunity to sit down with V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, who holds the first copyright for “EMAIL”—a system he began building in 1978 at just 14 years of age. It was modeled after the communication system being used at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. His task: replicate the University’s traditional mail system electronically.

And with that, email—as we currently know it—was born.

In 1981, Shiva took honors at the Westinghouse Science Awards for his “High Reliability, Network-Wide, Electronic Mail System” and attended MIT later that fall. The copyright for the term EMAIL was granted to Shiva in 1982, after…

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