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Friday, March 15, 2013

When Was Email Invented?


Well, it's complicated.  Depending on how you define email, (or "e-mail" if you're a jerk) the range spreads across 130 years.  And since a recent controversy rekindled the debate, let's lay out the issue as such.

ANSWER 1:  If you define email as any correspondence happening electronically, in a strict Antonin Scalia-originalism sort of way, then you would consider Morse Code as the first form of email.  Which, well, makes sense in that it was binary, employing dots and dashes instead of 1's and 0's  Year: 1836

ANSWER 2:  If you believe the correspondence should be in human language form, then you would give credit to Western Union and the U.S. Department of Defense for the development of the Automatic Digital Network (AUTODIN), a computerized message switching system using second-generation computers and switching centers, where messages were usually sent to a printer.  Year: 1958

ANSWER 3:  If you believe it can't be email unless addresses have the"@" symbol over the "inter"-"net", then you will credit Ray Tomlinson and ARPANET for inventing a messaging system that traveled across multiple networks and introducing the email address that distinguished between user and machine.  Tomlinson in fact is largely considered the inventor of email.  Year: 1971

ANSWER 4:  If you believe email was invented whenever the term email was first used, then maybe you might credit V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai who claims to have said the word "email" first.  Year: 1979


You decide.

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