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.
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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
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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
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,
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
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.