Ayyadurai, however, maintains that he invented email and he has created a comprehensive web site in support of his claim. On it he has published a statement from Chomsky in which Chomsky says: "Email was invented in 1978 by [Ayyadurai] a 14-year-old working in Newark, NJ. The facts are indisputable." And Chomsky dismisses as "deplorable" the "childish tantrums of industry insiders who now believe that by creating confusion on the case of 'email', they can distract attention from the facts."
The controversy erupted after the Smithsonian Institute in February this year announced the acquisition of Ayyadurai's material relating to the project. This lead to an article in the Washington Post headed "VA Shiva Ayyadurai: Inventor of e-mail honoured by Smithsonian." (That article has since been amended and only the amended version is available)
The article provoked a storm of controversy. There was a blog posting from the Washington Post's ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, quickly by a mea culpa from Paxton in which he confessed that his initial response had been "dismissive, snarky and wrongheaded, and had factual errors too."