Who invented email?

Email (Electronic mail) is a mode of exchanging messages among people through electronic devices. We cannot underestimate the value of email in modern corporate communication. Millions of emails are being sent and received worldwide daily because they are quick and inexpensive, retain records, and are not affected by distance. Its application has no bounds. You may send a single email to numerous recipients, schedule emails, and many more.

We have many applications that give us support for exchanging messages like Gmail, outlook, yahoo mail, etc. It will be a wonder to know that an application did work similar to email for inter-organization communication for the first time in the 1970s. This article will learn about the inventor of the email that has made an individual’s communication life easygoing.

Who invented email?

Why Email?

Previously, talking to someone who was far away was thought to be a time-consuming and challenging process because letters took many days to arrive, so that the crucial work that needs to be done was delayed.

Things improved a bit when the postal systems were invented, and then came Email or electronic mail. Email reduces the amount of time it took for proper complete communication. You can compose an email, send it to another person’s email address, and they would be able to view it straightaway. There was no need to wait days or months for that individual to read and respond to your Email. As a result, it’s safe to say that Email has been nothing short of a blessing for us.

Who invented email?

The question of who invented email is not that much straight forward how much it seems to be because it has remained the subject of debate for a long time. Even today, one can easily get confused while looking to answer this question on the internet. We will end up with the two names to answer this question from the rough view, i.e., Ray Tomlinson and Shiva Ayyadurai.

Who invented email?

Both Tomlinson and Ayyadurai aim to solve the same problem, so it’s not surprising that they arrived at similar solutions based on the existing communication process at the same time. It’s fair to say that both guys were forerunners in the email industry, and they both deserve credit for what they accomplished.

Although we have two different characters, we can try to find out the answer: Who was the first to do it, who did the best job, and who got the credit at last.

Ray Tomlinson: The one who claimed to be the inventor of Email initially


·Arpanet, The agency where the journey started

ARPANET was an initiative of the United States Defense Department credited with understanding the basis for the modern internet. Ray Tomlinson was hired to contribute to ARPANET’s development in 1971. ARPANET was extremely new and seeking for issues it could solve, he remarked in a 2012 interview with Verge. As a result, Tomlinson began out to deal with issues with how individuals communicated utilizing computers.

  • Tomlinson introduces @ sign to identify both the user and the machine.
Who invented email?

Ray Tomlinson is a person credited with the inventor of email. People used to send mail to those who shared the same computer before establishing the proper email system. On the other hand, Ray Tomlinson is known for creating the @”symbol to differentiate a username from the machine’s name. A tradition that we now use and recognize him as the inventor of the email system after bringing about a complete revolution in the email field.

Tomlinson’s email was accessible within the same network.

Ray Tomlinsonupdated an early electronic mail software called SNDMSG and used it to deliver messages across the ARPANET network. Ray Tomlinson’s email, on the other hand, was unable to transmit an email over several networks.His email was only accessible within the same network and can be used for intra-organization communication.For example, if you wanted to send an email to many colleges in India, such as IIT Goa and IIT Delhi, you couldn’t use Ray’s email.

But that doesn’t change the fact that he was an innovator of email. The @ sign was used to identify both the user and the machine to whom the email will be sent. His concept and implementation of utilizing the @ sign to address a user are undoubtedly impressive.

Now let’s talk about Shiva Ayyadurai for their significant contribution in improving the email.

The Shiva Ayyadurai introduced Email

Shiva Ayyadurai, a 14-year-old dark-skinned, lower-caste Indian migrant boy based at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Hehad written over 50,000 lines of code and named this program “email”to create the world’s first full-scale electronic emulation of the inter-office, inter-organizational mail system consisting of Inbox, Outbox, Folders, the Memo, Attachments, and so on,

In 1982, the United States government awarded Shiva Ayyadurai the first Copyright for “Email” that formally identified him as the inventor of email. However, it took time to get the copyright because, before 1980, the copyright protection act of 1976 did not allow the copyrights for the software products.

How Ayyadurai Email Is Different From Tomlinson

If we go back to the beginning, Shiva’s idea was the extended and improved Email system, which we presently used. He claims to be the one who first established appropriate email formattings, such as To, From, CC, BCC, Subject, Body, Attachments, and Others. However, it is claimed that Ray Tomlinson has most of the headers required to transmit a message, such as to, cc, and from. Shiva was the one who invented the name “EMAIL” and utilized those header keywords without knowing about the previous work.

When we look at the facts and history, we can see how the Email came to be and how it developed out of many people’s effort (lots of them even pre-dated Ayyadurai). For example, suppose you look at RFC 733(https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/rfc733) from 1977, published before Shiva started working at the University. In that case, you’ll notice that it already describes all of the elements of an email that Shiva would eventually design.

Now, let’s come to a conclusion about who invented Email:

  • The debate on the inventor of an email, Shiva claims, is the result of racism. He argues, “It’s cool if an Indian performs excellent software coding, outsourcing, or is the chairman of Microsoft.” But they cannot be an inventor. So I’ve been called a liar.”
  • However, he misses the fact that Tomlinson was a leading person in developing the first email standards in 1973, five years before Ayyadurai. Here’s the reference RFC 561(https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/rfc561), where he and others already developed email header standards.
  • In the RFC 561 document “Standardizing Network Mail Headers,” under Ray’s name, you’ll find the name of another Indian, AbhayBhushan.


In this article, we have discussed the dispute and confusion regarding the inventor in detail. It is a fact that Shiva got the copyright for his work, but we can’t forget the contribution that Ray Tomlinson had given. So the choice is yours because it is still a challenge to go with one among both.

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