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#11 Did Errol Morris' Brother Invent Email?


There was a lot that Errol Morris never knew about his brilliant, distant older brother Noel. Decades after Noel's death, Errol read an internet comment that said his brother had invented email. So he launched an investigation to find out if it was true.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This episode is brought to you by better for him a new podcast from eighty people. In each episode Francesca Ramsay talks to visionaries in business leaders about mistakes. They ve made how they work their way through them and came out better for it, listen on Spotify wherever you get your pot casts. This episode is brought to you by a sigh asylum is an app designed to help teams plan, organise and execute all the work they do together. It helps make sure nothing falls through the cracks. So you can focus on the work that matters most learn more. Try Osanna for free visit, asano dot com to get started. That's a ass, a dna dot com
from Gimme a reply on the show about the energy and I'm he gave up arrow moors makes movies before he made movies. Here's a private eye and you still got the obsessive nests of a good active, which means that when you write something online vibrational and was bedrock, rules of using the end do you always read all the comments on your pieces, I read a lot of them. I can't guarantee. I read all sometimes is a lot of comments but usually I read them for negative staff. Who wants to read positive? of a few years ago. Arabic. Can, I say about a professor he'd once had who, through an ashtray at his head, is too. One thousand nine hundred eighty one words again: Harrelson, obsessive and as an obsessive, once the pieces written, he decided to wait deep.
The common section where he done something new to obsess over and eighty two I can read it to you. If you like. Yes, please I had email today from another middle school student asking about no more of this place in history as a creator of electronic mail. That was the whole comment that it caught his eye because of that name Norman, there. S no was Arrow Morris's, older brother. He died twenty years earlier While he was alive, he now said anything to arrow about inventing email, which seems like the kind of thing invention It's such a large claim saying well, my brother was the first man on the moon Yeah sure sure he was the first man on the moon. Invented in this way actually, the first time around heard that your brother invented email, but he never told you about it. Rumour there whispers about it, after no staff for their allow
things about his brother that era hadn't known or hadn't, been aware of, since they were kids admired his brother, but from a distance I looked up to him. What was she like? The convened expression, I suppose, is ass, burgers element of Asperger's bit removed. He was always building things. Mechanical contraptions, electronic Gear of one kind or another he created this device, which he called Marice Matic doors. A system of ropes and pulleys than he did opened and closed the door from his bed. I often feel stupid around him. We had a telescope, remember him being in Back yard, with a friend of his later, because
I'm an astrophysicist looking at some the celestial object and we could get a good view of nice suggested moving the telescope crossed the others, the yard and they started laughing at me because clear yeah, I did not understand enormous distances involved and how that wasn't really going to help very much of anything How old are you is probably it seems reasonable thing not to now So some areas is in a huge surprise, but the precocious Gated Robin Massachusetts Bill elaborate mechanical inventions of telescopes. Eventually left home and went to MIT
There are and later he worked, there get a job programming early computer arrow went to visit him one summer in Cambridge visiting nor with strange it was like visiting the future people did not have computers in their houses or their apartments. That's unheard of, but my brother had a council in his apartment. Which was installed so that he could work essentially before hours a day and then some remember so well him at the console working. I understood very, very little about it, Other than that he was highly respected, people went to him if they couldn't debugger programme. My brother, always there and with an older brother, like that actually did seem possible that he would have
entity mail and never bothered to explain to his family. Fortunately, common eighty two have been signed, by Guy named Thomas Black. I'm trying to find common work they're all Morris well aware of how area fine, I dimly remember you for years and years and years ago Tom and actually worked with now back at MIT shall I was just a prize to see that comment in the New York Times it was out of date. You know every I was wondering if you would respond Tommy, northern close friends together for years, the to them often shared one terminal which, when the one It would be sitting and typing, while the others did over them. Yelling corrections. What era to find out from his brothers old work partner? Wasn't just the two of them. Created email, but also who nor had been by air
Account growing up in the Morris household meant being surrounded by smarts and sadness. The two brothers were raised by their mother, her brilliant musician with a doctorate in french literature. He supported their entire family. After their father died of a heart attack, my father died and number of nineteen. Fifty, although I have no memory of him, no memory a day, close friends, The family. Remember me running up and down the stairs and the house screaming, and my brother was nine years old. His relationship with my father from what I understand was very very difficult. One. I don't know, there's a lot of mysteries about my brother, probably I never answer, because you stuck with these mysteries Errol try to come up with theories about whose brother really was one of the central ones that nor was a socially isolated person era
That idea in his head up until knows death like his father, nor died from heart attack and also like his father. He died while you still pretty young, he was only forty. It was nineteen. Eighty three I knew my brother had friends, but how many friends I wondered, Anyone would come to the funeral that day the chapel it was packed were hundreds and upon hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people almost all from MIT. I remember, then, feeling that maybe I just didn't understand who my brother was or the things that he was able to achieve
Many people you expected would be there. I don't know a handful could have been close to a thousand people. How do you think they heard like how do you think they wound up there? You know computers. Of course. What do you mean these people were all connected with the first people to be connected after the break arrow Morris withheld from Thailand. Lack goes back into the asked and try to figure out who is brother was up and also did actually help create email. This episode is brought. You buy better for it. A new podcast from eighty p hosted by Francesca Ramsay. We all make mistakes better, for it looks at how mistakes have
the lives and careers of visionaries and business leaders and helps them think differently about what their working forty you'll hear from an entrepreneur who ventured out autism, and so I went out and took seven hundred dollars. I had in the bank, but my own pickup truck, took some flyers business cards and later I had a business and in each hour, rule breaker, whose learn While we all care about work in the first place. You are proud of the work Do you want to be able to tell your friends about you wanna, be able to feel like you're, making a difference? You'll hear how they work their way through their mistakes and came out better for listen on Spotify or wherever you get your PA casts. This episode is brought to you I saw her picture this a world where you spend less time juggling email meetings and status, updates and more time doing the work that matters. The most your team, that's the world economy.
Bill to create a saga is an app designed to help teams plan, organise and execute all the work they do together its built to give teams clarity, you can all understand your goals and how to achieve them together and whatever your next, Object is a sonnet. Can help reduce the busy work that waste your time from small companies to global enterprises, more than a million teams across a hundred and ninety five countries get work done with Sata, learn more and I s, honor for free visit, assign a dot com to get started. That's a stay anais, dot, com and now back to the show swifter Aero called Tom about Tommy. That comment, the two of them gonna long conversation and then Errol did what he does best. He got obsessed. He start investigating he devoured Tom, then what
comprehensive website on competing. In the nineteen sixties. He darted everybody you'd, find whose working at terminals lab and who still live there. Actually a lot of people, and he went at night. Where he was allowed to see the actual paper archives from his brothers old lab Librarian had me, fill out is slips and they come back with cardboard boxes. I open them up and there is a hodgepodge stuff. These documents do not look as though they were created to be preserved. They just happened to be preserved. Some of them are coffee. Stand, and so they're all of these outlines of various lectures that had been given formal and informal their programmes, lots and lots of pieces of programmes, so here the story that emerge from arrows research in nineteen sixty five Tom and onward for Project MAC, which
computing project at MIT. Their help programming your operating system. There is a man. From on high with a bunch of suggestions for features that the new operating system could have. And may I was one of those features, but Tom said it. I just sat there in the memo. Nobody actually wanted to try to implement it I know, and I ran across the memo. We went to people and said hey. This is great. How come it doesn't work and they should all. We never wrote that there's no time Nobody knows how to do it anyway, because of long technical explanation, ok, and we said well take away Their bosses actually told him not to this. There was a waste of time. The domino did it anyway. Times is a programme is only around a hundred lines of code. It was just way from multiple people who were sharing one terminal. Please messages for each other. On that terminal, if no vote in all nighter and finish programming at four o in the morning he had used their mail.
I am to tell Tom what he spent that time doing so Tom could take up the work it was like leaving an electronic posted known. It What was the first email message that you sent one eye like Alexander, Graham Bell I can't remember I used to send scraps of poetry and stuff like that, no kind of foam but maybe it wasn't wasn't computer enough There is a very robust online debate about when exactly email gets invented for Non Tom did their thing, another mit, alarming rate hormones figure. Out actually send electronic mail between two separate computers. But what when Tom would say, is that what they did Mister electronic mail? and what I would add is that they feared out something that their bosses hadn't the people are gonna use computers to talk to other people, rather than just a punch numbers back in archives, Elden find it.
Looking gun there wasn't say a certificate that said: hey Norma ass. They shop, indisputable, creating. I email Emma with your friend how men like today, but what Errol did vine, where actual pronounce that his brother had made of computer programs that he worked on remuneration kind of feeling, you're sitting there in a room with my, there's hand writing which I know so very, very, very well. It's just strange. I don't know how best to describe it, but in any kind of investigation there's a moment where you feel connected with the past and whether it through a photograph or a document Somehow the past becomes alive. Did your brother?
invent email? I will leave that my brother and Tom. Then black sent the first electronic messages through a computer. If that's email, well. Yes, I didn't investigate the story, my brother and email, because I expected that I was, going to find out he invented email or that he didn't invent email. I just wanted to go back into the past. Even the people were closest your mistress to us when they're alive. You come up with your theories about who they are and you base moths they do. Then he just spend their lives, doing things that can found everything you think you know about them and when they die they get even Mercier like their sneakers that choice war, where they really read early orange. What was a french movie issues always trying to make every?
you watch what was the most surprising thing. You discovered about him going back like this baby, it's a kind of leave, he really was the earth not all a dream. Through the world out there, people pro ram things! My brother programme things here. Bug programmes and there they are there. They are sitting in a box, but there they are in the feeling of I'll wait go now Papayas hosted by me he gave out in our continent Is this week by Chris near a and edited by Alex glimmered. Our themes by the mysterious break master cylinder and our show is mixed required, Natalie
there's a blizzard that actually shows up special thanks we too Rachel Marcus moods. Eighty and Lizzie vote in view of the shower thing by reviewing it on Itunes, it makes a big difference for us. Thank you, the next Wednesday.
Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.