back to article 'Inventor of email' receives damages from Gawker's collapsed empire

Former Gawker publisher Nick Denton has agreed to pay computer scientist and biotech entrepreneur Dr Shiva Ayyadurai $750,000 in damages after the blog wrote that Ayyadurai invented claims that he invented "email" in the late 1970s. The settlement was bundled along with the $31m damages paid to wrestler Hulk Hogan, aka Terry …

  1. Stevie


    So this Gawker story about the inventor of e-mail saying he invented it but that that was an invention was, in fact, an invention?

    I think you invented the whole thing.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    If Gawker would like to say I invented email, I wouldn't mind. Especially if I get paid for it.

  3. Grunchy Silver badge

    I thought email was obsolete

    Who uses email any more.

    Who cares, it's like "I invented unlimited spam about dick enlargement" oh, really???

    So you're the guy!

    1. Afernie

      Re: I thought email was obsolete

      "Who uses email any more."

      Nearly every business of any size on earth. I hope that helped. For what it's worth, the company I work for still receives orders by fax. Which, not being stuck in the mid-eighties we convert to email. Obviously.

  4. Fred Dibnah

    I've been called a dick once or twice

    Where can I claim my 750k?

    P.S. I also invented an IPHONE, a SATURN V, a PENICILLIN, and THE WHEEL. Please send me money.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: I've been called a dick once or twice

      and _I_ invented inventing claims of inventing. send ME even MORE money!

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "a world-renowned systems scientist, inventor and entrepreneur"

    We're talking about Thomas Edison, right ?

    Because Thomas Edison is world-renowned. As is Albert Einstein.

    This Dr Ayyadurai guy seems to be world-renowned in his own little world. Kudos to him for inventing something he called EMAIL all by himself at whatever age it was, but I'm sorry, world-renowned he ain't.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "a world-renowned systems scientist, inventor and entrepreneur"

      ...a legend, if you will, in his own mind.

      // Bright, to be sure, but not modest.

    2. Roq D. Kasba

      Re: "a world-renowned systems scientist, inventor and entrepreneur"

      It's actually a reductive statement, that he isn't famous on any other planets.

  6. DavCrav

    As I don't have $750k to give Shiva Ayyadurai, I will refrain from saying that he didn't invent e-mail and he's full of shit, and leave that to the Wikipedia article on him.

  7. fishman

    Shiva Ayyadurai wrote a program that he named "EMAIL". He invented that program. But email had existed long before that.

  8. Chris Gray 1

    Definitely earlier than 1978!

    BBN were one of the earliest into computers and networking. I'd be surprised if they *didn't* have email of some kind.

    At the University of Alberta, the earliest email I recall was "SHOW:MAIL" running on the IBM/Amdahl mainframe under the MTS operating system. I don't know for sure, but I'd put that as first running by the early to mid 1970's. My memory isn't good, but I think the fellow who created the "SHOW" account was named Keith Fenske, and worked for the math department. I assume he wrote the MAIL program.

    1. Fred Goldstein

      Re: Definitely earlier than 1978!

      Ray Tomlinson worked for BBN when he invented *networked* email; it existed within systems earlier.

      I worked for BBN in 1978 and we all used email; it had been around for years. They had one client program, IIRC called HERMES, which ran on TENEX (their PDP-10T OS, which became TOPS-20 after DEC bought it), which did amazing things. It had "all of the headers" -- you could invent headers of your own choosing, as it really was a small database program that let you sort and query on any header field. No doubt it did al of the stuff that Shiva claimed to have "invented". While I used it within BBN, I believe it was used by government clients too. Of course there was still SENDMSG for simple stuff, and a number of lighter, faster systems.

      Shiva did not invent anything. Denton probably paid him off because his lawyer said it was cheaper than litigating. Gawker has to take down the articles. But others no doubt will keep them in an archive, where they can get more publicity than ever.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Definitely earlier than 1978!

      Sure thing - we had e-mail using punchcards !

  9. disgruntled yank


    Yahoo says, "Certain of the settlement terms are incorporated within Gawker Media's latest proposed plan of liquidation, filed today, and include a proposed settlement payment to Dr. Ayyadurai and removal of the article at issue."

    So the $750 K is bundled not only with the Hulk Hogan settlement but with arrangements to pay the utility companies and the people who tend the coffee machines?

  10. Stevie


    in 1904 Tesla invented a wireless email that ran on water, but his patents were invalidated and the plans for it were stolen by the CIA who were working with Edison to discredit his designs.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought you couldn't be sued for something that's true.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      That's probably true, but you might still decide that it is cheaper to agree a payout to make the lawyers go away. After all, sometimes courts make, er, idiosyncratic decisions.

      And anyway, something being true merely means you will win the case and here in the post-Leveson UK that no longer guarantees that you won't be out of pocket.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah it is funny how but when you publish a private sex tape gotten through shady means and then get your ass handed to you in court for it how fast you want to settle everything to make it all go away.

      1. Throatwobbler Mangrove

        You've got it entirely backwards. The liability to Hulk Higan is far larger than the assets available to pay it. $1 or $1m to Dr A, it's all the same now.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Maybe it was the insults, or maybe they just had to settle because they had no more money to take it to court (gotta love the US 'justice' system!)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or maybe Denton did it just so Hogan gets less.

  12. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Not about who invented email

    It's "can Peter Thiel bludgeon Gawker any more?" "how can he make 'em hurt more?" "can I hit 'em again?"

    Dude makes Klingons sit up and go "man, he's got a revenge problem!"

  13. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Wikipedia edit needed?

    According to Ayyadurai's website, he developed a substantial electronic mail program for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey as a 14-year-old in 1978, calling it EMAIL.

    As the inventor of email, shirely, he has earned the right to be listed in the Wikipedia entry for UMDNJ, under the list "Notable alumni and faculty". Or perhaps under a separate category by itself?

    Jimbo, if you are listening, can you get one of your unpaid minions to look into it ASAP please.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wikipedia edit needed?

      > calling it EMAIL

      This is the french translation of enamel.

      All those dentists must have thought it's got something to do with teeth.

      Which is why no-one ever heard of that particular program written by a 14-year old with unlimited access to the uni basement, probably in PL/I.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I Invented Sexed Email

    I call it Hemail and Shemail.

    Can I have my $750,000 now ?

  15. John Miles 1

    Unix had Email in 1978

    In 1978 at the Univ of California I was using Email on their Unix systems. I think it was mainly confined to individual machines (networking was just starting then), but it was Email. UUCP and sendmail soon linked machines together in the next year or two before the internet then took off.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read the back story

    Most of you look like stupid commentards, because you dont know what is going on.

    Perhaps a better title would be "Billions overturn truth in US Court system".

    Our only hope is that PT will get the courts to declare that black is white - and then get run over on a pedestrian crossing.

    1. Afernie

      Re: Read the back story

      "Most of you look like stupid commentards, because you dont know what is going on.

      Perhaps a better title would be "Billions overturn truth in US Court system".

      Our only hope is that PT will get the courts to declare that black is white - and then get run over on a pedestrian crossing."

      I've been following this little saga for as long as it's been running but go on, tell us all what we missed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Read the back story

        maybe you have, but 90% of the thread posters havent, hence coming across like commentards.

        PT has been secretly funding dozens of multi-million dollar lawsuits, of little or no merit against Gawker because they (quite truthfully), announced to the world that he was a closet gay.

        (For those of you who havent read up on the back story)

        Gawker had no choice but to settle, as they needed to finalise these suits before they could finish the HH case that was making them bankrupt.

        In the UK they might have a chance of getting it all overturned due to "abuse of process", I dont know the US legal system well enough to comment on their chances in a US court.

  17. PassiveSmoking

    Invented e-mail in the late 70s, huh?

    Note the date.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge


      yes. the date. excellent point!

      And there was this CDC 'Cyber' system in use by the state of california university system, which had, *cough*, e-mail on it. and there was this guy in 1978 at SJSU who had written an e-mail system for the on-campus timesharing minicomputer (running RSTS/E on a PDP-11/70). His name wasn't "that guy" either.

      There was also another guy, an associate prof, who accessed ARPANET e-mail over a phone connection.

      So yeah, I call B.S. on that idiot's "invented" claims of inventing e-mail in the _LATE_ 70's. RFC's 821 and 822 notwithstanding, of course.

  18. Herby

    So, he "invented" a moniker we all now use.

    So, what!! It might have been called something else or maybe "email" by anyone. "Email" is just an abbreviation for "electronic mail" (as opposed to postal mail) that moves electronic messages around. Big deal!

    As for user-to-user electronic mail, I used one on a Tymshare SDS-940 back in the 60's. It was no big deal then. We used ASR-33 teletypes. The messages were "short" (thankfully).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, he "invented" a moniker we all now use.

      Actually there is no proof that he invented the moniker either.

      What is true though, is just how disingenuous his claim of inventing a world recognised system years after it's known use.

      Perhaps he is related to Dr. Evil's father? and also invented the question mark as well

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