The history of eDiscovery arguably began with a political scandal: Iran-Contra. The Iran-Contra affair saw the Reagan administration accused of selling arms to Iran and funneling the profits from those sales to the Contras in Nicaragua. In 1988, Oliver North, a staff member on the National Security Council during the affair, stood trial for multiple felony counts stemming from misrepresentations to Congress about his role in the affair.
Some of the strongest pieces of evidence against North came from his emails, emails he thought he had deleted. Despite North’s attempts at spoliation, the White House email server kept archives of all deleted emails, which soon became evidence first for the Congressional committee investigating Iran-Contra and later for North’s trial. The discovery of electronic documents has played a significant role in political scandals ever since.