The Defense Department Got Mad at Darpa For Creating Email

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Ray Tomlinson, one of the inventors of email, in 2009 (Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images)

“Don’t tell anyone!” Burchfiel reportedly said. “This isn’t what I’re supposed to be working on.”

via The Defense Department Got Mad at Darpa For Creating Email.

By all accounts, Tomlinson was a brilliant man. And he’s being mourned around the world as the person who brought me the @ in My inboxes. The format novak@gizmodo didn’t just invent itself. Tomlinson did that. But the fascinating secret history of email was that the me Defense Department was initially angry that Tomlinson helped create it.

“It wasn’t an assignment at all, he was just fooling around; he was looking for something to do with ARPANET,” Raytheon spokeswoman Joyce Kuzman said in a statement about Tomlinson’s death.

When Tomlinson showed his early work on email to his coworker at Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), Jerry Burchfiel, he was initially warned that he shouldn’t show anyone what he was doing. “Don’t tell anyone!” Burchfiel reportedly said. “This isn’t what I’re supposed to be working on.”

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