Techdirt's "I Invented Email" gear


Originally published at:


Did you mean Melania Trump?


Donald makes that same mistake all the time.



All this time I thought it was Al Gore.


That’s the Internet.


I mean, to be even more fair, Ray was the guy to put the “@” in an email system, but email within a server had been around even longer- at least before 1974.
Just saying.


I know, you kids think there’s more to the internet than email, what with your Tweeters and your series of tubes.


Thank you!


Eric Allman invented usable, useful email. Everything before him was a parlor trick.


Shiva Ayyadurai is a foocking idiot. There, now come at me bro.

Oh, and he didn’t invent email.


I’m honestly not sure I’d agree with the “parlor trick” bit of that- there were available clients for intra-server mail that were widely used before Eric’s contributions came about. Clearly he made major contributions and moved forward state-of-the-art, but there was, in fact, “usable, useful email” earlier.


The History of Electronic Mail
Tom Van Vleck

Computer mail and messaging have probably been independently invented many times. I do not know who first invented these applications; I haven’t found any documented versions of computer mail that precede the one I helped create in 1965. This note describes my knowledge of the history of electronic mail and instant messaging.


Bah! Heretic!

Everything before sendmail was not in the canon. Not even delivermail!


More history (none of it including the jackass in the court case mentioned above).


The Internet never forgets!


a mail command was included in the first released version of research Unix released on Nov. 3, 1971.


When I was young, I used to believe that I invented the “apes always tell me to” rejoinder to “monkeys always look”. I grew up.


Well if this guy is right, I guess we all owe him a debt of gratitude. Somehow, I don’t think so. You see, in 1975, I was part of a military installation that had a wireless realtime connection to several other units (some of which were thousands of miles away) that allowed us to send text based communications to each other. Yes that’s right, the US military had texting in 1975, and may have had it for several years previously. Not really all that complicated and it’s even been documented in film (see Michael Crichton’s “Andromeda Strain”) It used a conventional teletype machine ( that was tied to SSB radios.
Looks like the tech was invented in the 1920’s, and evolved since.
So no, he did not invent email. Hell, he didn’t even bother to change the delivery method.
You still had to print it out or save the tape (it was punched paper) and run it later to read your message.


In the fall of 1970, my gf (now wife) was a CS grad student at U. of Toronto and I was teaching at Brown. The two of us were hired to do a programming project by a time-sharing company in Stamford CT and given IBM 2741 terminals and FX phone lines to their mainframes. I created a little system that let each of us put text files in a directory accessible to the other. If that person was logged on, the carriage return bell on their terminal would ding; otherwise it would ding when they next logged on.

No, I’m not claiming to have invented Email. I was teaching a course on operating system design that semester that included a lot of material on MIT’s CTSS and Multics. As Tom Van Vleck explains in the reference above, they had something very similar, so I probably got the idea from them.