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V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai: The Controversial Inventor of EMAIL

V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai
Allan Wolper for WBGO

V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai received a United States Copyright in 1982 crediting him with being The Inventor of EMAIL, a title he earned as a 14-year-old research scholar at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey.

He said he received a copyright certificate on August 30, 1982 , rather than a patent, because patents were not awarded to software discoveries at the time.

However, he says he has been forced to defend his creation in a series of high profile court cases and high octane public media debates, that stems from jealous competitors and journalists who don’t respect him because he is an Indian-born dark skinned scientist.

Ayyardurai, who was born in India, migrated to the United States when he was seven, was raised in New Jersey, graduated from Livingston High School in Livingston, New Jersey, when he was 14 and went on to earn four separate degrees at MIT.

His ownership of the EMAIL copyright remained buried in federal archives until 2012 when The Smithsonian Institute formally asked Ayyadurai for his research materials so they could be featured at the National Museum of American History (NMAH).

“When news of the acquisition went public, Shiva was viciously attacked with clear and malicious intent to destroy his career, and reputation as an inventor and scientist,” recalled Dr. Leslie P. Michelson, who was the director of High Performance and Research Computing Division at Rutgers Medical, and Ayyadurai’s mentor when he first created his software EMAIL program.

And Smithsonian never displayed Ayyadurai’s work.

Ayyardurai has fought back. He won a $750,000 law suit from Gawker Media before the online magazine went bankrupt and recently filed a $15 million libel suit against Techdirt.

“When I was at MIT, I was a good, model, minority student,” said Ayyardurai in the Conversations with Allan Wolper WBGO broadcast. “But the concept of an Indian immigrant creating an Email in Newark, New Jersey blow the minds of certain people. And the white liberals who do this don’t even know they are being racist.”

Dr. Michelson hopes V.A. Shiva Ayyardurai will someday receive his due and his critics will stop carping at him.

“On August 30, 1982, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai received official recognition as the inventor of email from the US government for his 1978 invention," Dr. Michelson said in an introduction to a book, entitled “The History of Email.”

Ayyadurai, by the way, plans to run for the United States Senate in Massachusetts. He will run in the Republican primary in 2018. If he wins the nomination he says he will run as a “Lincoln Republican” in the general election against Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Click above to hear the entire Conversations with Allan Wolper with guest V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai.