The Mysterious Origins Of 7 Tech Terms

The Mysterious Origins Of 7 Tech Terms
Highlights

The Mysterious Origins Of 7 Tech Terms, If you find Google to be a calculating corporation, you\'re not far off. The name \"Google\" is actually a play on the mathematical term \"googol,\" a number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros.

Google
If you find Google to be a calculating corporation, you're not far off. The name "Google" is actually a play on the mathematical term "googol," a number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros. The name acts as a metaphor for founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin's mission to organise a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web.

Spam
Spam for years was known as canned mystery meat worthy of mockery. So much so, that Monty Python did a sketch about it in which the word spam was repeated over and over by a waitress, customers, and even a group of Vikings.

Many Monty Python fans were also early MUD, Prodigy, and AOL chatroom frequenters who used the word "spam" to refer to people who created macros to say the same thing over and over again, clogging up chatrooms with their repeated nonsense. So, when repetitive masses of unwanted email began circulating in the early 90s, people familiar with the interwebs began dubbing it spam, and the popularity of the term soared like processed meat at a grade school food fight.

Troll
Rooted in 17th century Scandinavian folklore, a troll once characterised an antisocial, quarrelsome, and slow-witted creature that was bothersome to humans. End of story, right? Nope. The word troll actually derives from the verb "trolling," a fishing technique in which you slowly drag a baited hook from a moving boat.

Many believe the birth of online "trolling" was on alt.folklore.urban, or AFU, when veterans would distinguish themselves from newer users by baiting them with topics that had previously been discussed ad nauseam. Newbies would take the bait and naively reply, exposing their uncool n00b ways. In the late 90s, however, the site became so highly trafficked that trolling was rendered a nuisance, giving the modern tech term once more a negative connotation. The meaning today now more closely resembles its true Norse roots, an idiot looking to pick a fight.

Bluetooth
The 10th century King Harald Gormsson is known for uniting all of Scandinavia-and having one gnarly tooth so rotten, it looked blue. Hence he earned the nickname "Bluetooth." His kitschy moniker and ability to bond nations inspired Jim Kardach, a software developer from Intel, to pitch "Bluetooth" as the name for a single wireless standard that Intel, Ericsson, Nokia, and IBM were developing together in 1997.

The name wasn't a huge hit, but since all the other names they were coming up with were even worse (i.e. "Flirt"), it was used as a code name or placeholder for the project. All four companies finally agreed on PAN (personal area networking) as the name. But PAN was quickly panned due to SEO issues, and the product was released as Bluetooth out of pure desperation. The public, however, loved the name and Bluetooth ultimately conquered-just like the king.

Podcast
Logically, the word is a hybrid of the words "pod" -from iPod- and "broadcast." The term "podcasting" was merely a suggested term for the new technology in an article written by The Guardian's Ben Hammersley in 2004, along with the other contenders like "audioblogging" and "GuerillaMedia." But due to the popularity of the iPod, which was released only three years earlier in 2001, "podcast" had an appealing snap that that stuck.

N00b
The term "newbie," was used in the military during the Vietnam War for new recruits, and since has become a popular slang term for a novice. Computer programmers adopted the term in the 90s with the emergence of l337speak and gave it a techy tweak, the variant "n00b," spelled with two zeros instead of Os.

Hack
The word "hack" was just a verb when it entered the English vernacular in 1200, meaning a rough cut or heavy blows. In the past few years it also came to refer to a clever trick, short cut, or "life hack." But somewhere in-between, it developed another meaning, "to use a computer to gain unauthorised access to data in a system."

The word's context of messing with machinery didn't originate in the mid-90s when Angelina Jolie was a fresh-faced rollerblading rebel with a pixie cut, but rather at MIT in 1955 where the notes of a Tech Model Railroad Club state that "Eccles requests that anyone working or hacking on the electrical system turn the power off to avoid fuse blowing."


Then in 1975, the word "hacker" appeared in The Jargon File, a glossary for computer programmers, with eight definitions. The last, and only negative entry, stated that a hacker was, "A malicious meddler who tries to discover sensitive information by poking around." Of course, this definition was the most popular amongst the media and in 1990, when The New York Times used it three times in an article about Kevin Poulson (aka Dark Dante) and Robert Tappan Morris (creator of the Morris Worm) it's negative connotation as a digital trespasser was coded into our lexicon.

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