September 20, 2015
Inventing something that is used by the whole world is a blessing. Yet, it turns into something ugly when the copyright of our invention is stripped by someone else purely based on racism and ego. This was the highlight of the talk on innovating by V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, the inventor of EMAIL.
Born in Bombay in 1963 and raised in Rajapalayam, Shiva’s family moved to the United States while he was seven years old. Much ahead of his peers in learning, he got exposure to things early on in life what others would have got much later.
Addressing participants at the Third International Conference on International Marketing in Asia Pacific – Issues and Challenges, via video conferencing from Boston on Saturday, he traced the path of his invention.
“When I first saw a secretary trying to send memos at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, I was asked to digitize the hefty process of mailing. Being a 14-year old, I had to understand the whole process completely and later digitize it,” he narrated.
He claimed that he successfully, still being a 14-year old, completed the task of emulating the paper-based interoffice mail system and then used it at the medical school in the year 1979. “I even got a copyright for it in 1982 and invented the term EMAIL,” he said.
His achievement as an Indian was lauded by newspapers including the Washington Post and the Huffington Post. However, his joy was short lived as he claimed that some organizations tried to erase his copyright.
“People could not digest a fact that an Indian invented something that is used on a higher platform. Many people still claim that EMAIL was invented by some American,” he said.
However, Ayyadurai admitted that he was also threatened by Indian politicians when he tried to raise support for copyright for his inventions. “I had to flee India in the year 2009 since I was threatened in my own country,” he lamented.
Eventually, his invention was honoured by the Smithsonian Museum which is now preserving the articles related to his inventions. The articles were transferred to the Smithsonian in the year 2012.
Despite the acknowledgement, his invention is still under controversy raised by various people from the Western society. Yet, he continues to fight for his right drawing inspirations from well known revolutionaries.
“Life is all about fighting for truth, likewise, an innovator should be truthful, loyal, a protestor and should protect and promote his innovations so that it reaches the audience completely. The innovator should also be acknowledged for his work,” he added.
“An Innovator should know that it is in his DNA; Find a Mentor; Identify real problems and solve them; find true customers; build to scale; protect his innovation and promote it,” said the Indian Inventor who always wants to be remembered as the 14-year old dark skinned Indian boy, who invented EMAIL.