Man who claims to have invented email has filed a lawsuit that could put one news website out of business – Los Angeles Times

Like many technological advances, email has many fathers and mothers. But one claimant to the mantle of email’s “inventor” has spent years trying to shoulder everyone else out of the way. And now he’s filed a libel suit that could destroy one news website that has covered his campaign assiduously, and critically.

The aggrieved “inventor” is V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, an India-born American entrepreneur. As a 14-year-old student in New Jersey in 1978, Ayyadurai devised an electronic messaging system for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now Rutgers medical school) and called it “email.” A few years later, he received a copyright on his software program and the term “EMAIL.” 

But does that make him the “inventor of email,” as he claims in his lawsuit? Versions of electronic messaging had been used as early as 1965 at MIT, came into their own in connection with the development of the government’s ARPANET (which evolved into the Internet) by 1972 and were being worked on in labs such as Xerox PARC through that decade. 

Ayyadurai has pursued his claim to be “the man who invented email” energetically in the news media. Lately he’s taken a new tack: filing lawsuits against news organizations that challenge his claim. His most recent target is a small technology news site called Techdirt and its parent company, the Redwood City research firm Floor64.

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