It seems that new technology terms are popping up all the time such as hashtag, tweeting, googling, trolls, and more. Have you ever wondered where some of these terms came from? Many are acronyms such as ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange), HTML (HyperText Markup Language), or HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface). But some have more colorful origins.
eBay – eBay started off as part of a larger site of former Apple software engineer Pierre Omidyar called “AuctionWeb”. As the site grew in popularity, he decided to spin it off and wanted to call it “Echo Bay”, named for his own consulting firm. However, the domain was already taken so he shortened it to “ebay.com”.
Spam – When masses of repetitive emails started circulating in the early 90s and people using macros to repeat themselves in chatrooms, it reminded Monty Python fans familiar with the inter webs of the skit about the canned meat called Spam, in which the word spam was repeated over and over by a waitress, customers, and even a group of Vikings.
Google – The name was thanks to a mis-spelling by the the current CEO and co-founder Larry Page. Originally, he wanted to call it googol, which is a mathematical term for the number 10 to the 100th power (or a 1 followed by 100 zeros) to reflect the unimaginable vastness of the Web.
Booting – The starting up of one’s computer is short for “bootstrap,” as in, “ to pull oneself up by the …”. A phrase meaning one’s self reliance. At one time, it meant doing something impossible.
Etsy – When the cofounder Robert Kalin was looking for a name for his new site, the natural language URL’s were in short supply. He was quoted as saying he wanted a nonsense world to build the brand from scratch. In Latin, it means “and if”.
Trojan Horse – Referring to the malicious program that is disguised as legitimate software, it was derived form the classical myth of the Trojan Horse where the seeming gift was a vehicle for bypassing security.
Yahoo – Originally called “Jerry and David’s guide to the World Wide Web”, the pair decide on the fun exclamation-enliven brand “Yahoo!” – which stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle”.
Bug – This term is usually, but incorrectly credited to Grace Hopper in 1946 when she traced an error in the Harvard Mark II to a moth trapped in a relay. However, use of the word ‘bug’ to describe problems dates back to at least the 1870’s. Thomas Edison used the term in his notebooks and letters.
Cookie – A cookie is a packet of information that travels between a browser and a web server. Lou Montulli, a web browser programmer, coined them after the term “magic cookies’ used by Unix programmers. “Magic cookie” is derived from “fortune cookie”, which has an embedded message.
Wiki – Wiki is a hypertext document collection or the collaborative software used to create it.
Named by Ward Cunningham, who created the wiki concept, who named them for the “wiki wiki” or “quick” shuttle buses at Honolulu Airport. Wiki wiki was the first Hawaiian term he learned on his first visit to the islands. The airport counter agent directed him to take the wiki wiki bus between terminals.
And my favorite one to date!
BlueTooth – Bluetooth was named for the 10th century second King of Denmark, King Harald Bluetooth (no one knows how he got that name, however); who was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as Bluetooth technology was intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.
By Nolan Overton, Web Developer for Consolidated Telcom