Computer, gadget, bug - an unusual origin of familiar words


We rarely think about where certain words came from, what their nature is. Computers

exist on the planet for less than a hundred years, smartphones andeven less, and around them their own language has already arisen, in which there are many words denoting objects that are understandable to us, but what was the logic behind the emergence of new words, we often forget or do not know at all. I will try to tell you about some words and how they arose.

Transistor - a proper name for a radio receiver

On the creation of transistors (semiconductortriode) scientists worked for decades, but only after the Second World War did the development develop into a practical plane and gave life to portable electronics. Radios were not portable, look at the Zvezda radio, which was produced in 1954. In the world, technology was no smaller, people were used to bulky devices.

The first all-transistor radio receiver appeared in the USA at the end of 1954, the Regency TR-1 model was distinguished by its minimal dimensions, it fit into a jacket pocket.

The world's first compact radio cost 50dollars, which was a significant amount in those days (today it is about 500 dollars in purchasing power). Very quickly, people began to call any compact-sized radio receiver a transistor, after the technology that made it possible. The name arose spontaneously, reflecting the miracle that technology brought to life.


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Walkman - portable player from Sony

In the 1970s, the music fever swept the world.In the past decade, the proliferation of compact radios has made it possible to listen to music anywhere outside the home, people are no longer tied to large, portable radios. Philips invented compact cassettes to record music, and Sony decided to bet on professionals and create a voice recorder for journalists, the product was called Pressman. Released in 1978, it turned out to be quite popular among businessmen and journalists, despite its high cost.

A team worked on the project inside Sony,consisting of young engineers, Sony chief Akio Morita (Akio Morita) proposed to create a lightweight version of Pressman, throw out the possibility of recording from the tape recorder, leave only the playback of regular-sized cassettes. In 1979, the team introduced a new product, they called it by analogy with Pressman - Walkman.

Akio Morita mercilessly criticized the choice of name,because he considered him illiterate and cutting the ear. At that time, many Sony engineers and marketers did not know English very well and therefore this name arose. Morita wanted to change the name to “Walking stereo”, but an advertising campaign had already been created, he saw the project at the launch stage. It was impossible to change anything, so the Walkman appeared for the Japanese market, where sonorous, English names were then preferred. With a cost of $150, such a player was an expensive toy, the company did not expect high sales. The best result was considered 5,000 players in the first month, but in the first two months the company sold 30,000 Walkmans in its home market.

Morita insisted that for other marketsWalkman came out with different names. In the USA the player was called Sound-about, in Australia and Europe Freestyle, in Great Britain Stowaway. But only the name Walkman, despite the absurdity, explained what kind of product you were looking at. Since 1981, Sony has been using this particular brand for all markets without exception, and it has become firmly established in everyday life, this name no longer irritates the ear.

Similar to the Walkman, names have been created forother products - Diskman for CD players, Watchman for portable TVs. But these names were not backed up by the success of the products. In its first 10 years of existence, the Walkman sold over a hundred million copies and became a household word for portable players.

iPod - a device from space

In 2001, Steve Jobs assembled at the Apple officeteam of copywriters and held an internal presentation of a new product that was supposed to hit store shelves next year. The music player did not have its own name, the project was called P-68. The player was created in eight months, in an exhausting race. There were no hints about how the project could be called, Steve Jobs chose the marketing slogan: “1000 songs in your pocket”.

The design, by Jonathan Ive, was based on Dieter Rams's 1958 T3 transistor receiver.

One of the copywriters invited to come up with a name for the product was Vinnie Chieco (Vinnie Chieco), the first association when looking at the player was Kubrick's film "2001: A Space Odyssey").

The 1968 film remained a cult and somewhathe was considered prophetic in Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs loved him. Vinnie Chico drew parallels between a spaceship and a small shuttle, what is called in the movie EVA Pods, a crew member orders the ship: "Open the pod bay doors, Hal". The player has become the same Pod, and the spaceship in this association is the computer from which you download music to the player. A touch of personalization in the form of the letter "i", which is familiar to Apple, and a new product name appeared - iPod.

Flash drive, flash memory

In 1984, Toshiba created a reprogrammablesemiconductor memory. One of the small Japanese companies used this memory to create a storage medium. Five people puzzled over how to name their product, colleague Fuji Masuoki suggested the name flash, since erasing information from the media was instant, like a bright flash. The word has taken root in different languages.

The computer is a trace of a distant empire

What is a computer today every child knows,the word has taken root so much that no explanations are needed and superfluous. It seems to us that this word arose quite recently and reflects the emergence of a new type of technology that was inaccessible to our ancestors. Like any delusion, this is very tenacious.

Initially, "computers" were people whocalculated something, for example, they counted the goods in the warehouse, calculated the distance of the roads and the need for materials for them. The Roman Empire and Latin have given us the word "computāre", in translation it means to calculate. Thus designated those same "calculators".

The verb came into English from this word"to compute" - calculate. And already from it the word computer appears, and not in our time, but long before that. For the first time we meet the mention of the word computer in 1897 in the Oxford English Dictionary, which means that they began to use it a little earlier. The description of the computer states that it is a mechanical computing device.

During the Manhattan Project, when the USthey created an atomic bomb (it was called a gadget, we will also talk about the etymology of this word), women performed calculations and they were called computers (for a minute, this is 1944). Women-computers also worked for a long time in the American laboratory of ballistic research, they manually calculated the flight paths of ballistic missiles, calculated theories of nuclear fusion. Tiresome, monotonous work, for which men were not taken, since attention and perseverance were needed here. Their contracts explicitly state that they work with computers!

In 1945, George Stiblitz speaks toUS National Defense Committee, his report is called "Relay Computers". Once again, the word computer does not refer to people, but to devices, and the paper proposes to stop referring to people with this word! According to Stiblitz, people should be the operators of computers, and from now on, calculations will be performed by machines. It wasn't until 1964 that the US stopped calling people computers, the language changed to reflect the emerging computer industry, computers are now just machines.

The personal computer or PC originated in 1964as a marketing term from Hewlett-Packard. The company launched a new product, a programmable calculator, and named it that. Later, the creators of the first truly personal computers used the term and it ceased to be associated with calculators.

The word computer is international and graduallydisplaces other designations of this technique from the language. In the USSR, the word "computer" was used - an electronic computer (my initials are abbreviated exactly like this - "computer", a joke of my parents who worked on such machines in the 70s). In Italian, the computer has replaced "calcolatore" and "elaboratore". China had its own word “dyan-nao”, which means electronic brain, in French it is “ordinateur” or “sorter”, in Finnish it is “tietokone”, which means “knowledge machine”. But it was the computer that became the international word, and this word came from the times of Ancient Rome and Latin.


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Bugs and how to catch them

The generally accepted pronunciation of the word "bug" is1945, when the second computer began to be built in the Navy laboratory, it was called the Mark II. The huge colossus, occupying an entire room, was equipped with electromagnetic relays. Grace Hopper worked on the computer, she created the first ever compiler for a programming language.

The word bug (beetle, insect) arose not justso, insects could affect the operation of the computer. Here is what Grace Hopper had to say about it: “It was unbearably hot in the laboratory one summer day in 1945. The computer suddenly stopped. When we began to understand, it turned out that the failure was caused by a moth - it closed the contacts of one of the thousands of relays. Just at that moment, an officer came to us and asked what we were doing. We replied that we were cleaning the computer from insects.”

In fact, this is how the bug and debugging appeared, that is, the elimination of the error. But there is another story that has been forgotten.

Source: grunge.com

With the influence of insects on the technique of the pastfaced by many inventors. For example, Thomas Edison, while working on a prototype phone, was faced with the fact that he was hit by a beetle. And this is what he wrote: “You were partly right, I found a “glitch” in my device, but not in the phone itself. It belonged to the genus callbellum. The insect, apparently, finds the conditions for its existence in all the intercoms of telephones. The playfulness of the message was that Edison named a beetle from the genus callbellum, beating the properties of the phone.

But the word "bug" nevertheless became popular thanks to the development of computer technology, Edison's words did not acquire such significance for the world, although he was the first in this.

Gadget - the confusing origin of the word

Never wondered where the word came from“gadget”, it seemed primordially American. As a child, there was an American cartoon “Inspector Gadget”, in which the main character defeated the villains with the help of various cunning devices. It is clear that these were some devices, tools with different purposes. But I did not think about the origin of the word.

In one of the art books I came acrossa curious explanation of the word gadget and its origin. In 1886, when the Statue of Liberty was finally erected on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, small copies of it were sold to residents of the city. They were created by the company Gaget, Gauthier & Cie, small sculptures began to be called the word "gadget".

Despite the charm of this version, the firstthe documented description of the word “gadget” is its inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary. The word is described as originating in the 1850s, from the French word "gâchette" (collar, bracket) or gagée (clip, fastener, collar). It is assumed that this word denoted items on the ship, the name of which the sailors did not remember: "Hey, give me that thing." This is how the word “gadget” is described in the book “Spunyarn and Spindrift” by the English writer Robert Brown.

Ultimately, a gadget today is a smallthe device is usually electronic. But in 1945, it was the word gadget that called the first atomic bomb, it can not be called compact. But later, gadgets became compact and were not classified as large devices. Interestingly, the Soviet atomic bomb was called a product, which in English has an analogue - “device”. The intersection here is rather curious, but I think it is independent.

Short conclusion

Please note that many words and termsappeared a long time ago, but did not spread, and then they were invented again. Surprisingly, their reinvention often has exactly the same logic, the meaning does not change. I tried to find words that reflect different principles, these are both compound terms like Walkman or iPod, and transistor (exactly the same idea that is behind the photocopier). As well as words that arose due to real situations when insects affected the performance of devices.

Surely you remember interesting stories about words related to technology, share them, maybe we will put together material for another article.

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