Fascinating facts and interesting stories

Funny words in the computer world

Fictional languagesThere are some funny words in the computer world. A brouter is a network bridge and a router combined in a single product. A glyph is a graphic symbol that provides the appearance or form for an alphabetic or numeric font. (“Glyph” is from a Greek word for “carving.”) A moof monster is a vague and indefinable source of trouble for users of information technology. A jughead is a tool used by researchers for searching information on gopher sites. Not gopher the squirrel but the old information retrieval system called Gopher, predecessor to the World Wide Web.

A kludge (pronounced kloodzh) is an awkward or clumsy (but at least temporarily effective) solution to a programming or hardware design or implementation problem. A Flying Ice Cube is what lives inside computers of scientists trying to simulate molecules. At the office, a Boss Key is the key you hit to quickly hide something when you see your boss or uninvited coworker approaching.

Although two of the most famous names in the computer world – the Internet world, more precisely – are now plainly familiar they did sound funny in their early days. Yahoo once was a word used to express delight [e.g. Yahoo! I’ve done it!] the dictionary defines yahoo as “not very intelligent or interested in culture,” and “one of a race of brutes resembling men but subject to the Houyhnhnms in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels 1726; rude, unsophisticated, uncouth.” David Filo and Jerry Young apparently liked the definition of a yahoo and, in April 1994, used it to rename the Internet service their founded four months earlier as “David’s and Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” They added the exclamation mark after the name and explained it’s backronym to be “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”

Sean Anderson, on the other hand, had numbers instead of words in mind when he suggested another name for Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s BackRub search engine (written in 1996 in the java and python computer languages). In 1997, Sean suggested googolplex, after the mathematical unit that refers to extremely large numbers, but Larry decided on the shortened form: googol. According to David Koller of the Stanford University, Sean misspelled the word as “google.” The rest is history of extremely large numbers.

The term googol was first mentioned in 1938 by Edward Kasner and referred to in the book Mathematics and the Imagination that he co-published with James Newman in 1940. Googol was coined by Kasner’s 8-year-old nephew, Milton Sirotta, as a reply to what name he would give to a really large number. It sounded kinda funny until we started googling ourselves and other things.

Fictional languages:

Many of new computer words were created for or originated in the fictional languages in sci-fi movies and video games, some which sprung complete new languages such as Klingon (Star Trek), D’ni (Myst and Riven) and Simlish (The Sims). Perhaps distant beings will be googling themselves soon too.

More computer funnies:

DEFINITION: Computer – A device designed to speed and automate errors.
All computers wait at the same speed.
Error: Keyboard not attached. Press F1 to continue.
Press any key to continue or any other key to quit.
Press any key… no, no, no, NOT THAT ONE!
KEYBOARD: An instrument used for entering errors into a system.
HARDWARE: The parts of a computer which can be kicked.
PCMCIA: People Can’t Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms.
ISDN: It Still Does Nothing.
ASCII stupid question, get a stupid ANSI!
To err is human; to really mess things up you need a computer.

08/17/2010. Category: technology. Tags: , , , .

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