Internet Pioneers Slam $750,000 Settlement for the 'Man Who Invented Email' - 2016-11-04
Two early internet pioneers are expressing sadness and disbelief at the fact that Shiva Ayyadurai, a self-described "world-renowned scientist, inventor, lecturer, philanthropist and entrepreneur" who says he invented "email: the electronic mail system as we know it today," will receive a $750,000 settlement from Gawker Media, the bankrupt publisher that he sued for defamation earlier this year over a series of stories that, his lawsuit claims, "falsely trace the origin of email and call Dr. Ayyadurai a liar."
Computer programmer Ray Tomlinson is credited by many experts and historians with developing the technology that we understand today as email. 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."
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."