Actual Creators Of Email Not At All Happy The Fake Creator Of Email Got Paid For His Bogus Claim

from the as-they-should-be dept

As we noted last week, Shiva Ayyadurai, a guy who didn't invent email but has built his entire reputation on the false claim that he did, was able to cash in on the settlement agreed to by Nick Denton to end all of the Charles Harder-related lawsuits against Gawker. Again, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, because of a personal grudge against Gawker, set up lawyer Charles Harder on a retainer, basically agreeing to help fund any lawsuit against Gawker that might help destroy the company. Harder filed a few, but the big one was the one filed by Hulk Hogan. Hogan won that (after losing the first few attempts and then going jurisdiction shopping for a court that would side with him). Almost everyone with any knowledge of the law agreed it was likely the verdict would lose on appeal (the appeals court had already ruled earlier on this case in favor of Gawker). Either way, Denton finally settled the case rather than push on, because of the cost of defending it and because Thiel had promised to keep funding the case as far as it would go. And, of course, it wasn't just that one case.

The Ayyadurai case was the most ridiculous of all. Ayyadurai did not invent email by any stretch of the imagination, but likes to go around falsely claiming he did, and smearing those who actually did the work. Thomas Haigh, a historian who keeps the most canonical explanation of Ayyadurai's misleading claims (including how they continue to morph and change and evolve over time) has the full story, but Gawker, among many others (including us) pointed out that he did not invent email. That led Ayyadurai and Charles Harder to sue Gawker -- presumably because (1) the Gawker/Harder/Thiel thing and (2) because Gawker used inflammatory language. The "settlement" meant that Ayyadurai got $750,000, though we're guessing a decent chunk of that likely went to Harder. Ayyadurai, somewhat ridiculous, put out a press release laughably claiming that "this settlement is a victory for truth." It's not. It's the opposite. It's a victory for the opposite of truth and shows how abusing the legal system can get you paid out -- especially when there's a billionaire willing to help fund the questionable lawsuits.

Anyway, it appears that those who were actually involved in the creation of email are pretty damn upset by this turn of events and are speaking out. If you go back to the early RFC on the creation of email, like 524, 561, 680 and 724 and 733, you see that all of the key concepts in email were being publicly discussed and implemented prior to Ayyadurai writing his email program in 1978.

One of the authors of those last two RFCs (724 and 733) is David Crocker, and he's not pleased with Ayyadurai trying to rewrite him out of the history of email -- and especially not with Ayyadurai getting a ton of cash for doing so. For what it's worth, Crocker and Ayyadurai have tangled before -- when Ayyadurai took some comments from Crocker so out of context to be borderline fraudulent (Ayyadurai took two separate sentences, that were separated by pages in a report Crocker wrote, totally out of context to falsely imply that Crocker said that no one was working on email in 1977). As you can imagine, Crocker is not pleased with the latest windfall for Ayyadurai.
Dave Crocker, who helped write several foundational standards documents about messaging over the internet, told Gizmodo that Ayyadurai’s settlement with Gawker Media represents a victory for a version of the history of email’s development that isn’t supported by evidence. “I grew up being taught that the truth is always a sufficient defense against claims of defamation,” Crocker said upon hearing about the settlement. “Given the extensive documentation about the history of email, I’m sorry to find that that the adage no longer holds true.”
Gizmodo also spoke to one of his co-authors, John Vittal, who first implemented features like "reply" and "forward," and he also found the whole thing baffling.
John Vittal, one of Crocker’s co-authors, seconded his frustration. Vittal is best known in the traditional history of email for being the first person to implement “reply” and “forward” functions. “What’s true is true, and you can’t hide from it, and shouldn’t be able to capitalize on thwarting it,” said Vittal. “To me, it’s a sad day.”
Meanwhile, it appears that throughout all of this, Ayyadurai continues to fool people. I had missed this, but earlier this year, he actually got onto CBS with comedian Mo Rocca on his "Henry Ford's Innovation Nation" in which Rocca falls hook, line and sinker for the bogus claims by Ayyadurai. CBS, of course, happens to also be the home of Walter O'Brien, whose origin story is quite similar to Ayyadurai's. Either way, as long as Ayyadurai continues to falsely hold himself out as the inventor of email, when he is not, people should continue to call out that his claims are simply false.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    David, 7 Nov 2016 @ 3:04pm

    Easy to dispell

    you see that all of the key concepts in email were being publicly discussed and implemented prior to Ayyadurai writing his email program in 1978.

    1978? That's way before Al Gore invented the Internet and laid down its first pipes and how are you supposed to read mail without a browser?

    For anybody with an average U.S. education, this should be more than enough evidence to dismiss the claims of either Ayyadurai or the various RFConmen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ehud Gavron (profile), 7 Nov 2016 @ 3:41pm

      Re: Easy to dispell

      The Al Gore thing is the exact opposite of this topic.

      He never said he invented the Internet. "Conservative" pundits looking to make fun of him made that up. What he said is he was on the committee that approved DARPA funding that led to research on interconnected networks and eventually the Internet.

      So HERE we have a guy who DID NOT invent email saying he did.

      In the Gore case we have a guy who DIDN'T invent something NOT saying he invented it, but the Republican Party talking points, ever a bastion of twisting anything just so we can get back to 1972 says he says he did.

      E

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 7 Nov 2016 @ 4:34pm

        Re: Re: Easy to dispell

        Let's not miss the elephant for the trees.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        art guerrilla (profile), 8 Nov 2016 @ 3:41am

        Re: Re: Easy to dispell

        thank you, i have no love lost for gore whore, but he was blindsided by that little bit of propaganda; AND the FACT IS, he WAS an early champion of the darpanet which evolved into the inertnet tubes we use today, it is -IN FACT- NOT unfair to say he was instrumental in getting the inertnet started...
        (CERTAINLY, 1000 times moreso than any braying rethugs who who tried to smear him with that canard...)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Adam Maas, 1 Mar 2017 @ 4:47am

        Re: Re: Easy to dispell

        And the reason why people mock him is that even that claim was a lie.

        Al Gore didn't get to Congress until 1976. the foundational research that he claimed to have helped fund started in the early 1960's and ARPANET was live by 1971.

        The big funding developments that occurred in creating the modern Internet during Al Gore's congressional tenure were the NSFNet buildout in 1981 and the allowing of commercial access to NSFNet in 1986, neither of which were tied to DARPA funding.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    UniKyrn, 7 Nov 2016 @ 3:05pm

    URL for the website collecting donations to sue him and distribute his estate to those who actually created email?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2016 @ 3:42pm

      Re:

      The people who actually invented the standards used in "email" are professors, primarily with relation to the US army. Professors just shake their heads at this kind of thing, finding the legal system far to unpredictable and unsuited for the type of argumentation needed in such a case as well as them being percieved as biased and thus unable to act as an expert witness later on. In the army there is a codex of keeping in line, following command-structure and shut up at ridiculous orders and just do what the superior should have asked them to do.

      No, I seriously doubt any of them are willing to subject themself to the economic burden, damaged reputation in some circles and other personal costs of driving such a case foreward.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 7 Nov 2016 @ 3:08pm

    Crocker may know more about email than anyone else on this planet

    I've been doing email work for decades...and every time I read a message from Dave Crocker I learn something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Nov 2016 @ 3:09pm

    Ayyadurai seems to have a habit of riding on the coattails of others declaring victory when others do the heavy lifting...

    Others created email, he names a program that to steal the thunder.
    Theil wanted Gawker dead, Ayyadurai rode the coattails to pretend his story was true.
    Ayyadurai rides the high horse of racism against him, when he is nothing but a conman who lies & hides the truth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    wshuff (profile), 7 Nov 2016 @ 3:14pm

    The geniuses on Scorpion may be the dumbest smart people in the history of the world. In the last episode I saw, Walter O'Brien got himself accidentally shot into space. Ayyadurai seems like he'd be a great addition to the Scorpion team.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2016 @ 10:37pm

      Re:

      I was interested in scorpion when I heard about it as a new show.

      I watched the first (or one of the first) episode, where an airlines backup of their aircraft control systems is overwritten every 12 hours, so there is only a 12-hour backup, and updated control systems were buggy so they had to get the old version back becfore the next backup overwrote the last working backup. So they had to download I think it was, the previous version working firmware from an airplane that hadn't had the update yet, by driving at high speed to match the speed of the airplane flying as slow as it could above a runway, and hooking a laptop up to the flying airplanes systems with a cable to download the working firmware so they could roll back all the others. Or something equally stupid. Never watched another episode.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Eldakka (profile), 7 Nov 2016 @ 10:38pm

        Re: Re:

        that was me, wasn't logged in ...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 8 Nov 2016 @ 9:17am

        Re: Re:

        My wife watches it so I catch an occasional episode.

        I'm partial to the one where a guy takes over a building and they have to sneak in through a furnace that keeps venting fire for some reason, and the bad guy has cut the network cables, which everyone keeps calling "server cables" because that is totally a thing that people call network cables, and O'Brien has to solder them back together.

        I won't say it's the dumbest show on television, but it may be the dumbest depiction of how computers work. And I say that having routinely watched police procedurals where money gets transferred out of banks by way of a progress bar that depicts it being sent one dollar at a time. Presumably by miniaturizing individual dollar bills and broadcasting them over the airwaves, like that machine in Willy Wonka.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2016 @ 2:24am

      Re:

      I, for one, am entirely in favor of shooting Walter Obrien into space, provided of course that the spacecraft trajectory intersects with the sun. A live mic relaying his thoughts as he's gradually incinerated would be a nice touch. Thank you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bwburke94 (profile), 7 Nov 2016 @ 3:43pm

    I think we get the point.

    Ayyadurai did not invent email. But neither did he invent trolling for attention, and that's all we're giving him here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2016 @ 5:18pm

      Re: I think we get the point.

      > Ayyadurai did not invent email. But neither did he invent trolling for attention, and that's all we're giving him here.

      I think the point is that he's gone further than trolling for attention. If I could get $750,000 while trolling for attention, while the people who actually did what I claimed I did got nothing, and then all the popular media rewrote history to fit my claims, I think I'd claim inventing a new way to 1. make false claims 2. sue for defamation 3. rewrite history 4. profit!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 8 Nov 2016 @ 12:12am

        Re: Re: I think we get the point.

        Yeah, exactly. I find trolling in the usual sense of the term to be one of the most pathetic ways a person can spend their time. It's disruptive, meaningless and actively reduces the quality of any conversation. I respond when I think there's a danger of casual readers mistaking their opinion for truth or honest debate, but generally I think they're wasting precious oxygen with their continued existence.

        But, you pay me 3/4 million for a spot of trolling? I might even consider taking it up full time myself.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Derek Kerton (profile), 8 Nov 2016 @ 9:48am

          Re: Re: Re: I think we get the point.

          In the character "Stephen Colbert's" view, I used to think Ayyadurai was wrong, but the market has spoken. He got paid $750k.

          His trolling must be true.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Nov 2016 @ 6:30pm

      There IS such a thing as bad publicity

      The thing though is that he wants his 'fame' to be about how he 'invented email', not about what a gigantic fraud and liar he is.

      He wants attention and fame to be sure, but for something positive, and 'habitual liar with a penchant for claiming the achievements of others as his own' is probably not what he wants to go down on the books as, hence the tantrums and attempts to smear anyone who points out the truth as 'racist'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Oninoshiko (profile), 7 Nov 2016 @ 3:46pm

    I think you forgot to mention Ayyadurai didn't invent email.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Atkray (profile), 7 Nov 2016 @ 4:47pm

    ¿Isn't Shiva Ayyadurai the guy who claims to have invented email, but didn't?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2016 @ 5:02pm

    I sent my first email when this poseur was 6 years old

    He is such an embarrassment!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2016 @ 5:24pm

    Attention:

    I CREATED TECHDIRT AND I WILL BE POSTING THIS COMMENT TO EVERY POST UNTIL I GET PAID MONEY I DO NOT DESERVE.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 7 Nov 2016 @ 5:37pm

    He's running with the saying attributed to Lenin, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth." in the vain hope that that is what will happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Walter O'Brien, 7 Nov 2016 @ 5:45pm

    Please stop spreading lies about my person.

    Thank you in advance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2016 @ 7:29am

      Response to: Walter O'Brien on Nov 7th, 2016 @ 5:45pm

      Please stop lying about your accomplishments..

      Thanks in advanced

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2016 @ 7:42am

      Re:

      Haha, you seem to do that yourself very well

      I have yet to hear something from you that is FUD or a lie

      Shall we meet at Defcon? Id like to see your "skills"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2016 @ 9:09pm

    Is it possible he invented something else, the dildo, perhaps?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 7 Nov 2016 @ 9:27pm

    On the bright side

    There's never been a better time to be a liar! Between celebutards inventing fictional histories to scam the ignorant, lawyers filing patents lying about things they supposedly invented, lawyers filing harassing lawsuits over supposed file sharing, bankers lying about investments and loans, Hollywood lying about movie profits, big companies using international laws to hide profits, Collection Agencies lying about fees for artists, politicians lying about pretty much everything, coupled with the widely broadcast persecution of whistle-blowers, what exactly are we telling our children about telling the truth?

    Now if you will excuse me, I've got tax forms to fill out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile), 8 Nov 2016 @ 4:15am

    What we need here is a 'hero' multi-millionaire to stand up against the villainous Thiel - has anyone seen for Musk-man?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Synonymous Howard (profile), 8 Nov 2016 @ 6:33am

    Gizmodo found a way to put the Gawker story back up

    By quoting liberally from it in a new story about the settlement, of course.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 8 Nov 2016 @ 6:56am

      Re: Gizmodo found a way to put the Gawker story back up

      How's that saying go again, 'The internet sees censorship as damage and routes around it'?

      The more he flails about lying his head off, the more attention is brought to the subject by people who actually know about it and are willing to push back against bald-faced lies, the more people will speak up and point out that Shiva Ayyadurai did not invent email, for sheer schadenfreude if nothing else.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2016 @ 7:15am

    So what are they going to do sue him? Or are they just making public "we don't like what you are doing"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2016 @ 7:32am

    Wow Obrian might be the worst bullshitter maybe even nr 4..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    halsathome (profile), 15 Jan 2017 @ 3:43pm

    More prior art

    Googling for NIC # 18516 (referenced in the first RFC) brings me to this Which is a dive into state-of-the-net in August 1973. This is a combo text/scan, so it is searchable. Search for "mail" .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.