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Indian-origin creator V A Shiva Ayyadurai the legitimate father of ‘Email’?

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Image source: theverge.com

New Delhi: The death of ‘supposed’ inventor of Email, Ray Tomlinson, on March 5, made the world talking about Mumbai-born V A Shiva Ayyadurai.

Tomlinson has been variously called email’s godfather, father and inventor, for having created a message transfer system between two computers in the same room in the 1970s.

He did this as an employee of a defence contractor. Most memorably, he is credited with having chosen the “@” sign.

However, Email has an Indian-origin creator too: Mumbai-born V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai.

Remember Marconi, famous for inventing radio? The world later realised that Jagadish Chandra Bose was the real inventor. Once again, top academics, including the venerable Noam Chomsky at MIT, have come forward to validate that V A Shiva Ayyadurai is the actual inventor of Email.

But there are two key differences. Bose didn’t live on to stake his claim to history while Ayyadurai has been fighting a losing battle to set the record straight. But most importantly, he has a US government document to support his claim.

As a high school student in 1979, Ayyadurai, then age 14, developed an electronic version of an interoffice mail system, which he called “EMAIL”. He copyrighted it in 1982.

Ayyadurai’s EMAIL started as a system of electronic message management that digitised the old-fashioned process of writing a memo, routing a memo with “To”, “Cc” (carbon copies) and “BCC”, and storing memos in folders. He developed this software at the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1978.

The US government certified the official copyright on EMAIL on August 30, 1982, for Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai’s 1978 invention. At that time, computer software and code could not be patented in the USA. Ayyadurai went on to earn four degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), including a PhD.

Email transformed our business communication and collaboration like no other technology. It’s probably the longest-surviving of Internet tools, in its various forms and designs. It also evolved over the next decade, but the fundamentals stayed as they were in 1978, with one notable addition: The now-ubiquitous “@” between the name and the host server, courtesy of the late Tomlinson.

Why does academic credit matter? Because the journey matters, the motivation matters and history matters to generations of inventors, dreamers and entrepreneurs deserve to know the truth. Big change happens in small places when opportunity meets people who are driven to find answers. That’s how email, as we know it, came to be.

Tomlinson’s work and selection of the “@” identifier advanced email among outside computers and used TCP/IP as the basic building block of this communication system. Electronic messaging existed prior to that, within networks (which we now call ‘intranets’) and non-TCP/IP systems.

The story of email exemplifies the journey of a team that included a precocious Indian-born teenager, eager to be useful in America — grateful for the later opportunity to earn four degrees at MIT, after inventing and copyrighting the EMAIL system — and the human desire to solve problems.

For far too long we have all been led to believe that communication’s greatest innovations came out of defence research, inspired by the needs of war. Great innovations can be inspired to advance life, not just retrofitted from defence technologies.

Email was created in a place of light and cooperation and it is important for people across the world to understand and appreciate this. Telling the truth about the invention of email in Newark, New Jersey, therefore, is a historical imperative toward breaking this blind belief in the supremacy of defence research to reveal a fundamental truth. Innovation can occur, anytime, anyplace by anybody, and war and profit are not its necessary and required impetus.

Despite much coverage in the US and global media as the inventor of email, including in Time in “The Man Who Invented Email”, Ayyadurai has been attacked in the US as an imposter, someone who merely registered a program called EMAIL, rather than invent email.

To them, MIT’s Noam Chomsky has this to say:

“Email, upper case, lower case, any case, is the electronic version of the interoffice, inter-organizational mail system, the email we all experience today — and email was invented in 1978 by a 14-year-old working in Newark, New Jersey. The facts are indisputable.” (Arvind Gupta and Prasanto K Roy, IANS)

  • Some Where

    Sadly though, the lie that Ayyadurai invented email has been thoroughly debunked by, you know, everyone who was actually involved in inventing email, something long in use by the time Ayyadurai got a copyright on his version, named “EMAIL”. But just because you build a plane and name it AIRPLANE doesn’t make you the inventor of the airplane.

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Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of New Jersey, US

Gurbir S Grewal has been nominated to be the next attorney general of US and would be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position in United States

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Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of US.
Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of US. Facebook
  • Gurbir S Grewal is nominated to be the next attorney general of New Jersey, US
  • He would be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position

In a historic first, a distinguished Sikh public prosecutor “who has experienced hate and intolerance first-hand” has been nominated to be the next attorney general of the US state of New Jersey.

If Gurbir S. Grewal’s nomination by Democrat Governor-elect Phil Murphy is approved by the State Senate early next year, he will be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position in the United States and the second Indian-American, after Kamala Harris, who held the position in California before her election to the US Senate.

Announcing the nomination in the state capital, Trenton, on Tuesday, Murphy said: “In light of all that is being thrown at us by the president, we need an attorney general unafraid to join our fellow states in using the law to protect all New Jersey residents.”

Grewal, 44, is the prosecutor of Bergen County, an important district across the river from New York city. He was appointed to by the current Republican Governor Chris Christie and that is likely to mute any opposition the senate.

Symbolic of the public acceptance of minorities despite scattered incidents of bigotry, two Sikhs were elected mayors last month, Ravi Bhalla in Hoboken, New Jersey, and Preet Didbal in Yuba City, California.

Vin Gopal, who became the first Indian-American to be elected to the New Jersey State Senate last month, said that Grewal is someone “not only eminently qualified, but who will bring a perspective to the office that is diverse and long-overdue.”

After Murphy made the announcement, Grewal said: “I wanted to give back to a country that has given us and other immigrant families like us so much.”

Turning to his three daughters, Kyrpa, Mayher and Mahek, who were with him, he said: “As someone who has experienced hate and intolerance first-hand throughout my life, I wanted to work to ensure we all live in and that the three of you grow up in a fair and just society.”

Grewal added: “I wanted to perhaps also show people that while I and others like me may look different or worship differently, that we, too, are committed to this country.”

Hailing Grewal’s nomination, Rajwant Singh, the co-founder of the National Sikh Campaign, said: “These are exactly the kind of role models our youngsters need to feel proud of being a Sikh and an American.”

“While America could be seen having a very polarized situation politically and yet there are some very shining moments to show that people of all backgrounds can aspire for top positions,” he added.

South Asian Bar Association President Rishi Bagga, said: “The decision to appoint a visible minority as the chief law enforcement officer for New Jersey reflects the diversity of the state and of the US, and is especially important in a time where minorities and immigrants have often felt targeted by law enforcement.”

Attorney General is a very powerful position New Jersey heading the Department of Law and Public Safety, which includes the state police.

Grewal has earlier served as an assistant federal prosecutor in New York and in New Jersey, where he was also the chief of the Economic Crimes Unit.

In the administration of former President Barack Obama, Indian Americans have held senior law positions. Neal Kumar Katyal was an Acting Solicitor General.

Sri Srinivasan, now a federal appeals court judge in Washington, did a stint as the Principal Deputy Solicitor General.

Vanita Gupta was the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and headed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

US President Donald Trump has appointed Uttam Dhillon to be his special assistant and associate counsel. (IANS)