Jargon Chaff File


This is the chaff file. It contains all the entries which have been added to the Jargon File at some point and later rejected for various reasons (usually because they're mainstream English or straight techspeak). They are kept up-to date with the current master format conventions.

Drafted but never added

ALGOL
archiver
balanced
bit mask
bit vector
escape
giant blue lobster
GUI
IPL
kernel
native mode
pass-by-name
pass-by-reference
pass-by-value
race condition
RISC
RMS
signal
spoofing
stub
Symbolics
seer
whitespace
write behind
write through
ALGOL: n.

[ALGOrithmic Language] The common ancestor of C and the Pascal family (including Ada and the various versions of Modula). One of the great pioneering efforts in language design; indeed, it has been said that Algol was a great improvement over most of its successors.

archiver: n.

/ar'kie-vr/ A utility that can pack and unpack file sets and/or entire directory hierarchies to and from an `archive' format including the file data and information such as its creation date and size. There are many of these, used both for backups but in preparing software distributions for cross-network transport. UNIX's tar(1) and cpio(1), Windows's ARC.EXE, and zoo(1) for both UNIX and Windows handle archive formats often used not only on these systems but in many other environments which must communicate with them regularly.

balanced: /bal'@nst/, adj.

Said of a system in which investment in major resources (memory, disk and CPU cycles) have been matched to the job load in such a way that programs are not typically all waiting on the same resource. See bottleneck, hot spot.

bit mask: n.

A string of bits in core that is interpreted by hardware or software as enable/disable flags for some related set of options or operations. May be used either of hardware flags wired into a computer system's control logic or of software flags controlling some part of a program's execution. Connotes a relatively small set of bits (a byte or word) as opposed to a bit vector which may be of any length. See also bit bashing.

bit vector: n.

See bit mask.

escape: n.

1. The ASCII character ESC, hex 1b, octal 033, usually labelled ESC or (rarely) ALTMODE on terminal keyboards. Some operating systems (including older UNIXes) use this character to indicate that output is to be suspended.

2. A special character that may cause the following character to have other than its usual meaning, esp. used under UNIX for the backslash character `\'. Such a character, used to prevent the special meaning of a wildcard or other special character, is said to `escape' the character from its special meaning. Use of this sort of literalizing to quote quote characters or other special syntax is often called escapement; the use of `\' is often specifically slashification.

giant blue lobster: n.

The default absurd mythological animal. This originated among aficionados of Live Action Role Playing, a hobby largely inhabited by hackers. A 1987 LARP game called `Starlight Rendezvous' featured several characters who were, in game, giant blue lobsters (complete with giant lobster armor artfully sculpted out of blue foam rubber). These `Klik-kliks' were obstreperous beings whose idea of diplomacy was to sidle up to other players, insult them, and declaim “We have giant blue pincer claws and we're not afraid to use them” in gruff voices resembling Richard Nixon's. Eventually one was tossed in a jacuzzi by a crowd chanting “Drawn butter! Drawn butter!”. The lobsters became a running joke in later LARPs, and have since often been invoked in conversation by hackers who were not present for the original game and, indeed, have only a vague idea about where the image derives from.

GUI: /goo'ee/, n.

[acronym for “graphical user interface”] A combination of a particular window system (such as X, NeWS or PM) and an interface-design policy for applications. In 1990, prominant GUIs battling it out for mind-share include AT&T/Sun's Open Windows, OSF's Motif, HP's New Wave and Microsoft's Presentation Manager interface. See FUD Wars.

IPL: /ie-pee-el/, v.,n.

[acronym for Initial Program Load] Synonym for boot. Usage: now rare, reported at IBM and Motorola. Formerly more common at IBM shops.

kernel: /ker'nl/

[from UNIX, now also used elsewhere] The resident portion of the operating system; that which handles I/O dispatch, runs and schedules processes, and provides other system services to applications through TRAPs or system calls. Distinguished from application libraries (on the one hand) and the system shell or command interpreter on the other.

native mode: /nay'tiv mohd/, n.

On hardware or software supporting several functional modes, some designed to emulate the behavior of other similar products, `native mode' is the one (usually default) command set or feature set that is not an emulation. Example: many smart CRTs support ANSI or vt100 emulations in addition to the default native mode defined by the manufacturer.

pass-by-name: /pas-bie-naym'/, n.

See thunk. Abandoned as a technique by HLL language designers many years ago except in explicit macro processing; it's too expensive and makes side effects too hard to track. Can be inexactly simulated in C or LISP by using the macro facility. See also pass-by-reference, pass-by-value.

pass-by-reference: /pas-bie-re'[email protected]/, n.

A mode of argument-passing supported by Pascal `var' arguments and in some other languages which requires the caller to give the name of a variable as the actual and binds the formal to the address (in effect) of the variable. Variables passed to a function by reference can be modified in place by the function. This can be simulated in C using the address (&) operator in the function invocation and the pointer-dereference (*) operator within the body of the function. See pass-by-name, pass-by-value.

pass-by-value: /pas-bie-val'yoo/, n.

The simplest and most `natural' form of argument passing (and the default in all modern HLLs); the value of the actual argument expression is computed once at function-call time and the corresponding formal is bound to it for the scope of the function. See pass-by-name, pass-by-reference.

race condition: n.

A class of bug in multi-tasking, multi-threaded or event-driven systems arising from situations in which code will fail if one task gets to a particular execution point before another has had time to prepare for that event. In UNIX, often used to refer to various kinds of lossage due to V7 and USG UNIX's non-self-resetting signal(2) facilities; if two signals hit a process in rapid succession, the second may arrive before the signal handler can reset itself, resulting in process death and potentially infinite screwage.

RISC: /risk/

[Reduced Instruction Set Computer] An architectural approach to processor pioneered at Berkeley in the early 1980s which emphasizes simple fixed-length instructions implemented in random logic or PLAs, as opposed to the older style that came to be called CISC [Complex Instruction Set Computer] architectures typified by the VAX in which elaborate microcode is used to implement bushels of addressing modes and special-case instructions of wildly varying length. RISC processors also generally feature a large file of orthogonal registers and register windowing to reduce HLL function-call overhead. The theory behind all this was to optimize to the code-generating style of HLL compilers rather than human programmers, trading away instruction-set complexity to eliminate decode overhead and improve performance. It worked; see killer micro.

RMS: //

Nom de guerre of Richard M. Stallman, archetypal AI hacker famous in particular for 1) inventing EMACS, 2) his belief that making money from software is evil, and 3) the consequent creation of the Free Software Foundation. See copyleft, demigod, EMACS, GNU, Symbolics.

signal: /sig'nl/, n.

[from UNIX] A software interrupt, especially one which dispatches to a handler written in an application (as opposed to merely triggering a system-level event).

spoofing: n.

In the subjargon of computer security specialists, an attack which relies on the inability of users or computer programs to verify the identity or location of a communication partner. A mockingbird spoofs the computer's login sequence to fool a user; some cracking software repeatedly spoofs human login actions to fool the computer.

stub: /stuhb/, n.

A dummy routine which either performs no action or simply announces its presence, inserted at the bottom of a call hierarchy to verify that the control flow at all levels above it is functioning as intended.

Symbolics: /sim-bo'liks/, n.

[aka `Slymebolics' /sliem-bah'liks/] A manufacturer of Lisp Machines that evolved out of the MIT lisp machines. Once thought by some to be evil incarnate because they were making money from software. (See RMS) They lost this status when they proved that they weren't interested in making money from software. See seer.

seer: v.

To take a marginally successful but poorly managed company and drive it completely into the ground. The word comes from Brian Seer, a man who was brought in from the outside to manage Symbolics. His tenure there led to the following joke:

Q: What do Brian Seer and Richard Stallman have in common?

A: Neither of them believes in making money from software.

[Editorial disclaimer: RMS protest that this joke misrepresents his position] See also GNU.

whitespace: /hwiet'spays/, n.

[esp. in C/UNIX shops]

1. Any sequence of the characters space, newline, tab, carriage-return and (sometimes) vertical tab.

2. Parts of a code layout style where the code is not, whether inserted because of parsing requirements or for human readability. "Remember, C hackers -- whitespace is your friend!"

write behind: /riet be-hiend'/, v.

To buffer data for writing to a device at a convenient time in the future, without holding up the computation of the process doing the writing. Oppose write through.

write through: /riet throo/, v.

To write data from a process to disk, with no buffering, each time and every time the process does an I/O request. Oppose write behind. Safer, but slower.

Deleted before 2.1.1 or earlier

spazz
waterbottle soccer
sixty-nine
PTY
moon
line feed
spazz: v.
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1. To behave spastically or erratically; more often, to commit a single gross error. “Boy, is he spazzing!

2. n. One who spazzes. “Boy, what a spazz!

3. n. The result of spazzing. “Boy, what a spazz!

waterbottle soccer: n.
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A deadly sport practiced mainly by Sussman's graduate students. It, along with chair bowling, is the most evident manifestation of the "locker room atmosphere" said to reign in that sphere. (Sussman doesn't approve.)

[As of 11/82, it's reported that the sport has given way to a new game called “disc-boot”, and Sussman even participates occasionally.]

sixty-nine: adj.
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Large quantity. Usage: Exclusive to MIT-AI. "Go away, I have 69 things to do to DDT before worrying about fixing the bug in the phase of the moon output routine..."

[Note: Actually, any number less than 100 but large enough to have no obvious magic properties will be recognized as a "large number". There is no denying that "69" is the local favorite. I don't know whether its origins are related to the obscene interpretation, but I do know that 69 decimal = 105 octal, and 69 hexadecimal = 105 decimal, which is a nice property. - GLS]

PTY: n., /pi'tee/
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Pseudo TTY, a simulated TTY used to run a job under the supervision of another job. PTYJOB /pi'tee/ n. The job being run on the PTY. Also a common general-purpose program for creating and using PTYs. This is DEC and SAIL terminology; the MIT equivalent is STY.

moon: n.
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1. A celestial object whose phase is very important to hackers. See phase of the moon.

2. Dave Moon ([email protected]).

line feed: n.
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[standard ASCII terminology]

1. v. To feed the paper through a terminal by one line (in order to print on the next line).

2. n. The “character” that causes the terminal to perform this action.

Deleted before 2.1.5

Cambridge notation
gateway
Kleene star
snog
Cambridge notation: n., /kaym'brij no-ta'shn/, /kaym'brij po'lish/
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[LISP] The now-standard way of writing LISP expressions as nested lists, with parens and spaces; as opposed to the earlier and technically purer practice of writing full S-expressions with cons dots. Supposedly invented as a KLUGE because a full parser for S-expressions would have been harder to write.

gateway: /gayt'way/, n.
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1. A computer or item of special-purpose hardware that links two or more normally incompatible data networks and does protocol translation between them.

2. On compatible or common-carrier networks, a piece of software that translates between normally incompatible data formats and addressing conventions.

Kleene star: n., /kleen star/
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See regular expressions.

snog: v.
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[from old-time science-fiction fandom] Equivalent to mainstream "make out" describing sexual activity, especially exploratory. Most often encountered as participle snogging. “Oh, they're off snogging somewhere.

Deleted before 2.2.1

assembler
binary
pointer arithmetic
religious war
assembler
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1. A program translator that allows human beings to generate machine code using mnemonics and symbolic names for memory locations rather than raw binary; distinguished from an HLL by the fact that a single assembler step generally maps to a single machine instruction (see also languages of choice).

2. A nanobot which is a physical replicator (This is the `official' term, coined by Eric Drexler; see nanotechnology).

binary: n.
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The object code for a program.

pointer arithmetic: n.
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[C programmers] The use of increment and decrement operations on address pointers to traverse arrays or structure fields. See also bump.

religious war: n., /ree-lij'@s wor/
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[from Usenet, but may predate it] flame wars over religious issues.

Deleted before 2.2.1

cell-repair machines
cell-repair machines: n.
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An often-discussed probable consequence of nanotechnology; nanobots specifically programmed to repair tissue at the cellular level. Possible uses include reversing freezing damage from cryonics procedures and correction of mutagen-damaged DNA (including eradication of retroviruses and oncogenes).

Deleted before 2.3.1

big BLT, the
BIN
cryonics
diablo
DMP
dragon
fuzz
JRN, JRL
IMPCOM
JSYS
output spy
phantom
REL
SAV
SHR
STY
UUO
XGP
yoyo
big BLT, the: n., /big belt, [email protected]/
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[obs.] Shuffling operation on the PDP-10 under some operating systems that consumes a significant amount of computer time. See BLT in the main listing.

BIN: n.
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[short for BINARY; used as a second file name on ITS]

1. n. Binary.

2. BIN FILE: A file containing the BIN for a program. Usage: used at MIT, which runs on ITS. The equivalent term at Stanford is DMP (pronounced "dump") FILE. Other names used include SAV ("save") FILE (DEC and Tenex), SHR ("share") and LOW FILES (DEC), and EXE ("ex'ee") FILE (DEC and Twenex). Also in this category are the input files to the various flavors of linking loaders (LOADER, LINK-10, STINK), called REL FILES.

cryonics: n.
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The practice of freezing oneself in hopes of being revived in the future by cell-repair machines. A possible route to technological immortality already taken by 1990 by more than a handful of persons with terminal illnesses.

diablo: /dee-ah'blow/
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1. [from the Diablo printer] n. Any letter- quality printing device. n.

2. v. To produce letter-quality output from such a device. See lase.

DMP: /dump/
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See BIN.

dragon: n.
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[ITS; UNIX calls this a daemon or demon] A program similar to a daemon, except that it doesn't sit around waiting for something to happen, but is instead used by the system to perform various useful tasks that just have to be done periodically. A typical example would be an accounting program that accumulates statistics, keeps track of who is logged in, and so on. Another example: most timesharing systems have several terminals, and at any given time some are in use and some are sitting idle; the idle ones usually sit there with some idiotic message on their screens, such as “Logged off.”, from the last time someone used it. The ITS timesharing system at MIT puts these idle terminals to good use by displaying useful information on them, such as who is using the computer, where they are, what they're doing, what their telephone numbers are, and so on, along with other information such as pretty pictures (the picture collection included a unicorn, Snoopy, and the U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek). All this information was displayed on idle terminals by the `name dragon', so called because it originally printed just the names of the users. (That it now shows all kinds of things, including useless though pretty pictures, is an example of creeping featurism.) The name dragon is a program started up by the system, and it runs about every five minutes and updates the information on all idle terminals.

fuzz: n.
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In floating-point arithmetic, the maximum difference allowed between two quantities for them to compare equal. Has to be set properly relative to the FPU's precision limits. See fudge factor. This term is particularly common among APL hackers.

JRN, JRL: n., /jay ahr en/, /jay ahr el/
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The names JRN and JRL were sometimes used as example names when discussing PPNs (q.v.); they were understood to be programmer names for (fictitious) programmers named “J. Random Nerd” and “J. Random Loser” (see J. Random). For example, one might say “To log in, type log one comma jay are en” (that is, “[log1,JRN]”), and the listener will understand that he should use his own computer id in place of “[JRN]”.

IMPCOM: /imp'kom/
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See TELNET. This term is now nearly obsolete.

JSYS: /jay'sis/, /jay'sigh/, v.
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[Jump to SYStem] See UUO.

output spy: n.
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On the ITS system there was a program that allowed you to see what is being printed on someone else's terminal. It works by “spying” on the other guy's output, by examining the insides of the monitor system. It could do this because the MIT system purposely had very little in the way of “protection” that prevents one user from interfering with another. Fair is fair, however. There was another program that would automatically notify you if anyone starts to spy on your output. It worked in exactly the same way, by looking at the insides of the operating system to see if anyone else was looking at the insides that have to do with your output. This “counterspy” program was called JEDGAR (pronounced as two syllables: /jed'gr/), in honor of the former head of the FBI. By the way, the output spy program is called OS. Throughout the rest of computer science, and also at IBM, OS means “operating system”, but among old-time ITS hackers it almost always meant “output spy”.

phantom: n.
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[Stanford] The SAIL equivalent of a dragon Typical phantoms included the accounting program, the news-wire monitor, and the LPT and XGP spoolers. UNIX and most other environments call this sort of program a background demon or daemon.

REL: /rel/
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See BIN: TOPS-10 is long dead. in the main listing. Short for `relocatable', used on the old TOPS-10 OS.

SAV: /sayv/
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See BIN.

SHR: /sheir/
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See BIN.

STY: /stie/, not, /ess tee wie/, n.
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[ITS] A pseudo-teletype, which is a two-way pipeline with a job on one end and a fake keyboard-tty on the other. Also, a standard program which provides a pipeline from its controlling tty to a pseudo-teletype (and thence to another tty, thereby providing a “sub-tty”). This is MIT terminology; the SAIL, DEC and UNIX equivalent is PTY (see main text).

UUO: /yoo-yoo-oh/, n.
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[short for “Un-Used Operation”] A PDP-10 system monitor call. The term “Un-Used Operation” comes from the fact that, on PDP-10 systems, monitor calls are implemented as invalid or illegal machine instructions, which cause traps to the monitor (see trap). The SAIL manual describing the available UUOs has a cover picture showing an unidentified underwater object. See YOYO. [Note: DEC salescritters since decided that “Un-Used Operation” sounds bad, so UUO now stands for “Unimplemented User Operation”.] Tenex and Twenex systems use the JSYS machine instruction (q.v.), which is halfway between a legal machine instruction and a UUO, since KA-10 Tenices implement it as a hardware instruction which can be used as an ordinary subroutine call (sort of a “pure JSR”).

XGP: /eks-jee-pee/
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1. n. Xerox Graphics Printer.

2. v. To print something on the XGP. “You shouldn't XGP such a large file.

yoyo: /yoh'yoh/, n.
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DEC service engineers' slang for UUO. Usage: rare at Stanford and MIT, has been found at random DEC installations.

Deleted before 2.5.1

follow-on
go away
How hard would it be
IRP
layer
leading-edge
organic debugging
price/performance
utility
wait state
follow-on: n.
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A new release or version of a product, sufficiently different to merit a new designation but including all the bugs and problems of the previous product architecture (this is the usual result of being “compatible” with previous releases).

go away: v.
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To vanish inexplicably. Normally used in a kind of prayer or litany: “With a bit of luck, that problem will go away when we install Release XXX”.

How hard would it be: adv.
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A plaintive litany used when venturing suggestions for changes. Immediately precedes some preposterously difficult proposal which to the requestor (and any other reasonable person) seems simple. From experienced users, a wry acknowledgement that the proposition may well be costly, but is nevertheless desirable. “How hard would it be to remove the length restriction on userids?” See also WIBNI.

IRP: v., /erp/
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[from the MIDAS pseudo-op which generates a block of code repeatedly, substituting in various places the car and/or cdr of the list(s) supplied at the IRP] To perform a series of tasks repeatedly with a minor substitution each time through. “I guess I'll IRP over these homework papers so I can give them some random grade for this semester.

layer: n.
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A collection of hardware or software that can be considered to form a layer within the structure of an operating system or architecture. Conceptually, layers are smoothly overlaid on each other with a clean interface between each, as in an onion. Upon detailed inspection, however, it will be often be seen that the tough-skinned and prickly globe artichoke is often a more accurate model.

leading-edge: adj.
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1. At the forefront of innovation and technology.

2. Used in marketroid-speak to describe technology that is four years out of date and is therefore mature enough to be used in a commercial product.

organic debugging: n.
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[IBM] A parody of some fashionable techniques for improving the quality of software. Reportedly, the output from a compilation or assembly of the suspect program is placed on the floor, with a large flat dish on top of it, and an indoor plant in a pot is placed in the centre of the dish. The dish is then filled with water. The principle is that any bugs in the program will be attracted towards the house plant and drown as they try to cross the intervening water. From statistical evidence this seems about as effective a technique as many others currently in use.

price/performance: n.
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An undefined measure of value-for-money. As in “The XYZ offers improved price/performance”. See benchmark, machoflops.

utility: n.
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A program that provides a general service that may have a variety of uses. For example, sorting and printing programs are often called utilities. The name implies a lack of novelty, and describes a `bread-and-butter' program.

wait state: n.
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1. A period during which a processor is idle, for example, waiting for input, output, or memory activity to complete.

2. Also used of humans waiting on some event to act.

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belly up
black box
bottleneck
close
hot key
link
listing
mixed case
mount
null device
panic
port
retrofit
sadistics
script
SUPDUP
belly up: adj.
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[think of a dead fish] Down, and it stinks. Used of hardware which suddenly stops working, especially when the stoppage is ideally timed to disrupt a development schedule. Esp. found in the phrase `to go belly up' or `gone belly up'. See also casters-up mode. down.

black box: n.
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Something which is sealed off (opaque) so the inner workings aren't visible, typically said of very complex algorithms. “That image restoration technique is a black box.” The application to hardware is general technical English, of course.

bottleneck: adj.
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A slow code section, algorithm, or hardware subsystem through which computation must pass (see also hot spot); anything with lower bandwidth than is available for the rest of the computation. A system is said to be bottlenecked when performance is usually limited by contention for one particular resource (such as disk, memory, or processor clocks); the opposite condition is called balanced, which is more jargon in the strict sense and may be found in technical dictionaries.

The connection between the central processor and memory is often called the von Neumann bottleneck. This term was coined by John Backus in his 1978 Turing Award lecture; it is now standard in the computer science literature but is also the canonical example of a bottleneck to hackers.

close: /klohz/
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[from the verb `to close', thus the /z/ sound]

1. n. Abbreviation for `close (or right) parenthesis', used when necessary to eliminate oral ambiguity. See open.

2. adj. Of a delimiting character, used at the right-hand end of a grouping. Used in such terms as close parenthesis, close bracket, etc.

3. vt. To release a file or communication channel after access.

hot key
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1. n. A keystroke (or combination of keystrokes) that switches environments; esp. used if it flips between different modes or screens of a full-screen interface. Perhaps so called because they are always active or `hot'; possibly related to hot buttons in marketroid-speak.

2. v. To switch environments.

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A network connection between two machines. Usage: “Is that link down again?

listing: n.
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A physical paper printout (as opposed to on-screen display) of program source, or of the results (interspersed with error and status messages) of a compilation or assembly run. What one grovels over when performing a desk check. Both the term `listing' and the thing it describes are now much less common than formerly, as modern time-sharing operating systems and powerful interactive editors have made it advantageous for hackers to do effectively all of their work on-line.

mixed case: adj.
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Of source code, commentary, system messages, etc., not in all upper case or all lower case, and therefore easy to read and understand. Used esp. in opposition to older designs that are case-insensitive and use an all-caps character set.

mount: vt.
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1. To attach a removable physical storage volume to a machine. In elder days and on mainframes this verb was used almost exclusively of tapes; nowadays it is more likely to refer to a disk or disk pack.

2. By extension, to attach any removable device such as a sensor, robot arm, or meatware subsystem (see scratch monkey).

3. [UNIX] To make a logical volume of some sort available for use. The volume in question may or may not be removable and may be just one partition of a physical device.

null device: n.
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[techspeak] A logical input/output device connected to the bit bucket; when you write to it nothing happens, when you read from it you see an end-of-file condition. Useful for discarding unwanted output or using interactive programs in a batch mode. See /dev/null.

panic: vi.
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[UNIX] An action taken by a process or the entire operating system when an unrecoverable error is discovered. The action usually consists of: (1) displaying localized information on the controlling terminal, (2) saving, or preparing for saving, a memory image of the process or operating system, and (3) terminating the process or rebooting the system.

port
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1. v.,n. Describes the act of moving, translating, reconfiguring, and adapting software from one machine architecture and/or operating system (the source environment) to run on a different one (the target environment). Until recently and except among a relatively small group of modern operating systems this process has ranged from extremely painful up to flat-out impossible. The ubiquity of the C language and the spread of the UNIX operating system have, fortunately, done much to change this.

2. [from mainstream `port' for a door or gate] n. Anything one might plug a peripheral or communications line into; as in a `serial port' or `parallel port'.

retrofit: v.
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To graft some pieces from newer technology onto a piece of software or hardware representing an older one. This often results in a crocky, inelegant compromise between new and old. The term implies use of the older stuff in ways the designers didn't anticipate. Some of the bizarre things done during the 1970s to old-style batch operating systems like GECOS and IBM's OS/360 in order to make them crudely interactive stand out as examples. More recently, personal computer hackers have frequently been known to graft new floppy and hard-disk devices onto obsolete hardware in order to preserve software written for a particular processor, screen and keyboard combination.

sadistics: /[email protected]'tiks/, n.
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University slang for statistics and probability theory, often used by hackers.

script: n.
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1. A program written in shell; a batch file (see batch). A set of instructions which can be fed to a machine as though the user had typed them.

2. A transcript of some interaction with a machine.

SUPDUP: v.
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To communicate with another ARPAnet host using the SUPDUP program, which is a SUPer-DUPer TELNET talking a special display protocol used mostly in talking to ITS sites. Sometimes abbreviated to SD.

Deleted before 2.7.1

grungy
wow
asymptotic
bat file
sluggy
spin-lock
grungy: /gruhn'jee/, adj.
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Incredibly dirty, greasy, or grubby. Anything which has been washed within the last year is not really grungy. Also used metaphorically; hence some programs (especially crocks) can be described as grungy.

The earliest print use anybody has reported to us of `grungy' is from the National Lampoon parody Bored Of the Rings, dating from the late 1960s. It has been suggested that this term originated with Vietnam vets. It has recently (as of 1991) also become common in mainstream English.

wow: n.
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See excl.

asymptotic: adj.
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Infinitely close to. This is used in a generalization of its mathematical meaning to allege that something is within epsilon of some standard, reference, or goal (see epsilon).

bat file: n.
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[MS-DOS/Windows] Abbreviation for batch file, the MSDOS equivalent of the UNIX shell script, derived from the .BAT extension required for the command interpreter to find the batch file and execute it.

sluggy: /sluhg'ee/, adj.
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Hackish variant of `sluggish'. Used only of people, esp. someone just waking up after a long gronk out.

spin-lock: n.
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[Cambridge] A busy-wait. Preferred in Britain.

Deleted before 2.8.1

swapped
what
humongous
swapped: adj.
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From the older (per-task) method of using secondary storage devices to implement support for multitasking. Something which is swapped in is available for immediate use in main memory, and otherwise is swapped out. Often used metaphorically to refer to people's memories (“I read the Scheme Report every few months to keep the information swapped in.”) or to their own availability (“I'll swap you in as soon as I finish looking at this other problem.”). Compare page in, page out.

what: n.
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The question mark character ("?"). See QUES. Usage: rare, used particularly in conjunction with wow.

humongous: adj., /hyoo-mohng'gus/, alt. /hyoo-muhng'gus/
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See hungus.

Deleted before 2.9.[123456]

blazer
breakage
FAtt
firmware
FReq
ONE BELL SYSTEM (IT WORKS)
pipeline
blazer: n.
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(alt.: 'blazer) Nickname for any of the Telebit Trailblazers, a line of expensive but extremely reliable and effective high-speed modems, popular at UNIX sites that pass large volumes of email and USENET news.

breakage
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1. Brokenness and the consequent mess.

2. [IBM] n. The extra people that must be added to an organization because its master plan has changed; used esp.: of software and hardware development teams.

FAtt: n.
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[FidoNet] Abbreviation for File Attach.

firmware: n.

Software installed into a computer-based piece of equipment on ROM. So-called because it's harder to change than software but easier than hardware.

FReq: n.
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[FidoNet] Abbreviation for File Request.

ONE BELL SYSTEM (IT WORKS)
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This was the output from the old UNIX V6 `1' command. The `1' command then did a random number roll that gave it a one-in-ten chance of recursively executing itself.

pipeline: n.
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[UNIX: orig. by Doug McIlroy; now also used under MS-DOS and elsewhere] A chain of filter programs connected `head-to-tail' so that the output of one becomes the input of the next. Under UNIX, user utilities can often be implemented or at least prototyped by a suitable collection of pipelines and temp-file grinding encapsulated in a shell script (this is called plumbing); this is much less effort than writing C every time, and the capability is considered one of UNIX's major winning features.

Deleted before 2.9.12

Note

Most of these were removed due to my decision to drop IRC/MUD slang of at best marginal interest to hackers and low giggle or information value.

salsman
archive
arc wars
berserking
i14y
i18n
lame
BartleMUD
posing
tinycrud
K-line
Q-line
reset
subshell
brand brand brand
fuggly
hack-and-slay
arc
card
silicon foundry
essentials
fab
salsman: /salz'[email protected]/, v.
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To flood a mailing list or newsgroup with huge amounts of useless, trivial or redundant information. From the name of a hacker who has frequently done this on some widely distributed mailing lists.

archive: n.
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1. A collection of several files bundled into one file by a program such as ar(1), tar(1), cpio(1), or arc for shipment or archiving (sense 2). See also tar and feather.

2. A collection of files or archives (sense 1) made available from an archive site via FTP or an email server.

arc wars: n.
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[primarily MSDOS] holy wars over which archiving program one should use. The first arc war was sparked when System Enhancement Associates (SEA) sued PKWare for copyright and trademark infringement on its ARC program. PKWare's PKARC outperformed ARC on both compression and speed while largely retaining compatibility (it introduced a new compression type that could be disabled for backward-compatibility). PKWare settled out of court to avoid enormous legal costs (both SEA and PKWare are small companies); as part of the settlement, the name of PKARC was changed to PKPAK. The public backlash against SEA for bringing suit helped to hasten the demise of ARC as a standard when PKWare and others introduced new, incompatible archivers with better compression algorithms.

berserking: vi.
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A MUD term meaning to gain points only by killing other players and mobiles (non-player characters). Hence, a Berserker-Wizard is a player character that has achieved enough points to become a wizard, but only by killing other characters. Berserking is sometimes frowned upon because of its inherently antisocial nature, but some MUDs have a berserker mode in which a player becomes permanently berserk, can never flee from a fight, cannot use magic, gets no score for treasure, but does get double kill points. “Berserker wizards can seriously damage your elf!

i14y: n.
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Abbrev. for ‘interoperability’, with the ‘14’ replacing fourteen letters. Used in the X (windows) community. Refers to portability and compatibility of data formats (even binary ones) between different programs or implementations of the same program on different machines.

i18n: //, n.
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Abbrev. for `internationali{z,s}ation', with the 18 replacing 18 letters. Used in the X (windows) community.

lame: adj.
Revision 2.9.12??? 
Deleted: mainstream.

Weak; losing; not up to the job. Hackish use resembles the mainstream idiom in phrases like “a lame excuse” but has special connotations. Some hacker subcultures use it for people or designs that display intelligence but never follow through on their promise. Thus, a lame design might have clever ideas in it, but fail due to laziness or poor debugging on the part of the implementer. A lame person (or lamer) may be bright and interesting, but unable to accomplish much due to chronic flakiness. Marked compounds like ‘non-lame’ and ‘lameitude’ flourish.

BartleMUD: /bar'tl-muhd/, n.
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Any of the MUDs derived from the original MUD game by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw (see MUD). BartleMUDs are noted for their (usually slightly offbeat) humor, dry but friendly syntax, and lack of adjectives in object descriptions, so a player is likely to come across `brand172', for instance (see brand brand brand). Bartle has taken a bad rap in some MUDding circles for supposedly originating this term, but (like the story that MUD is a trademark) this appears to be a myth; he uses `MUD1'.

posing: n.
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On a MUD, the use of : or an equivalent command to announce to other players that one is taking a certain physical action that has no effect on the game (it may, however, serve as a social signal or propaganda device that induces other people to take game actions). For example, if one's character name is Firechild, one might type ‘: looks delighted at the idea and begins hacking on the nearest terminal’ to broadcast a message that says “Firechild looks delighted at the idea and begins hacking on the nearest terminal”. See RL.

tinycrud: /ti:'nee-kruhd/, n.
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1. A pejorative used by habitues of older game-oriented MUD versions for TinyMUDs and other user-extensible MUD variants; esp.: common among users of the rather violent and competitive AberMUD and MIST systems. These people justify the slur on the basis of how (allegedly) inconsistent and lacking in genuine atmosphere the scenarios generated in user extensible MUDs can be. Other common knocks on them are that they feature little overall plot, bad game topology, little competitive interaction, etc. --- not to mention the alleged horrors of the TinyMUD code itself. This dispute is one of the MUD world's hardiest perennial holy wars.

2. TinyMud-oriented chat on the USENET group rec.games.mud and elsewhere, especially newbie questions and flamage.

K-line: v.
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[IRC] To ban a particular person from an IRC server, usually for grossly bad netiquette. Comes from the `K' code used to accomplish this in IRC's configuration file.

Q-line: v.
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To ban a particular IRC server from connecting to one's own; does to it what K-line does to an individual. Since this is applied transitively, it has the effect of partitioning the IRC network, which is generally a Bad Thing.

reset: v.
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[the MUD community] In AberMUD, to bring all dead mobiles to life and move items back to their initial starting places. New players who can't find anything shout “Reset! Reset!” quite a bit. Higher-level players shout back “No way!” since they know where points are to be found. Used in RL, it means to put things back to the way they were when you found them.

subshell: /suhb'shel/
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[UNIX, MS-DOS] An OS command interpreter (see shell) spawned from within a program, such that exit from the command interpreter returns one to the parent program in a state that allows it to continue execution. Compare shell out; oppose chain.

brand brand brand: n.
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Humorous catch-phrase from BartleMUDs, in which players were described carrying a list of objects, the most common of which would usually be a brand. Often used as a joke in talk mode as in “Fred the wizard is here, carrying brand ruby brand brand brand kettle broadsword flamethrower”. A brand is a torch, of course; one burns up a lot of those exploring dungeons. Prob.: influenced by the famous Monty Python Spam skit.

fuggly: /fuhg'lee/, adj.
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Emphatic form of funky; funky + ugly). Unusually for hacker jargon, this may actually derive from black street-jive. To say it properly, the first syllable should be growled rather than spoken. Usage: humorous. “Man, the ASCII-to- EBCDIC code in that printer driver is fuggly.” See also wonky.

hack-and-slay: v.
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(also hack-and-slash)

1. To play a MUD or go mudding, especially with the intention of berserking for pleasure.

2. To undertake an all-night programming/hacking session, interspersed with stints of mudding as a change of pace. This term arose on the British academic network amongst students who worked nights and logged onto Essex University's MUDs during public-access hours (2 @sc{A.M.} to 7 @sc{A.M.}). Usually more mudding than work was done in these sessions.

arc: vt.
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[primarily MSDOS] To create a compressed archive from a group of files using SEA ARC, PKWare PKARC, or a compatible program. Rapidly becoming obsolete as the ARC compression method is falling into disuse, having been replaced by newer compression techniques. See tar and feather, zip.

card: n.
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1. An electronic printed-circuit board (see also tall card, short card.

2. obs. Syn. punched card.

silicon foundry: n.
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A company that fabs chips to the designs of others. As of the late 1980s, the combination of silicon foundries and good computer-aided design software made it much easier for hardware-designing startup companies to come into being. The downside of using a silicon foundry is that the distance from the actual chip-fabrication processes reduces designers' control of detail. This is somewhat analogous to the use of HLLs versus coding in assembler.

essentials: n.
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Things necessary to maintain a productive and secure hacking environment. “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, a 300MHz Pentium box with 64 meg of core and a 2-gigabyte disk running Linux with source and X windows and Emacs and SLIP via a 56K modem to a friendly Internet site, and thou.

fab: /fab/, v.
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[from ‘fabricate’]

1. To produce actual silicon from a chip design. To a hacker, fab is practically never short for ‘fabulous’.

2. fab line: the production system (lithography, diffusion, etching, etc.:) for chips at a chip manufacturer. Different fab lines are run with different process parameters, die sizes, or technologies, or simply to provide more manufacturing volume.

Deleted before 3.0.0

unroll
unroll: v.
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To repeat the body of a loop several times in succession. This optimization technique reduces the number of times the loop-termination test has to be executed. But it only works if the number of iterations desired is a multiple of the number of repetitions of the body. Something has to be done to take care of any leftover iterations --- such as Duff's device.

Deleted before 3.2.0

toto
unleaded
spoo
spooge
toto: /toh-toh'/, n.
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Reportedy the default scratch file name among French-speaking programmers --- in other words, a francophone foo. It is reported that the phonetic mutations “titi”, “tata”, and “tutu” canonically follow toto, analogously to bar, baz and quux in English.

unleaded: adj.
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Said of decaffeinated coffee, Diet Coke, and other imitation programming fluids. “Do you want regular or unleaded?” Appears to be widespread among programmers associated with the oil industry in Texas (and probably elsewhere). Usage: silly, and probably unintelligible to the next generation of hackers.

spoo: n.
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Variant of spooge, sense 1.

spooge: /spooj/
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1. n. Inexplicable or arcane code, or random and probably incorrect output from a computer program.

2. vi. To generate spooge (sense 1).

Deleted before 3.3.2

mango
doco
devo
sendmail
mango: /mang'go/, n.
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[orig. in-house jargon at Symbolics] A manager. Compare mangler. See also devo and doco.

doco: /do'koh/, n.
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[orig. in-house jargon at Symbolics] A documentation writer. See also devo and mango.

devo: /dee'voh/, n.
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[orig. in-house jargon at Symbolics] A person in a development group. See also doco and mango.

sendmail: n.
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The standard Unix mail agent; written by Eric Allman. It is very flexible, but has very hairy configuration syntax and has had numerous security bugs, because it's a large, monolithic program which needs assume with root privileges part of the time. See also bug-of-the-month club and Great Worm.

Deleted before 4.1.1

DEChead
double DECkers
Open DeathTrap
microtape
pig, run like a
altmode
AOS
chine nual
blow away
cruncha cruncha cruncha
CTY
JRST
news
fepped out
JFCL
PIP
NOMEX underwear
Pink-Shirt Book
DEChead: /dek'hed/, n.
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A DEC field servoid. Not flattering.

[from ‘deadhead’] A Grateful Dead fan working at DEC.

double DECkers: n.
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Used to describe married couples in which both partners work for Digital Equipment Corporation.

Open DeathTrap: n.
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Abusive hackerism for the Santa Cruz Operation's `Open DeskTop' product, a Motif-based graphical interface over their Unix. The funniest part is that this was coined by SCO's own developers.... Compare AIDX, Macintrash Nominal Semidestructor, ScumOS, sun-stools, HP-SUX.

microtape: /mi:'kroh-tayp/, n.
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Occasionally used to mean a DECtape, as opposed to a macrotape. A DECtape is a small reel, about 4 inches in diameter, of magnetic tape about an inch wide. Unlike those for today's macrotapes, microtape drivers allowed random access to the data, and therefore could be used to support file systems and even for swapping (this was generally done purely for hack value, as they were far too slow for practical use). In their heyday they were used in pretty much the same ways one would now use a floppy disk: as a small, portable way to save and transport files and programs. Apparently the term microtape was actually the official term used within DEC for these tapes until someone coined the word ‘DECtape’, which, of course, sounded sexier to the marketroids; another version of the story holds that someone discovered a conflict with another company's ‘microtape’ trademark.

pig, run like a: v.
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To run very slowly on given hardware, said of software. Distinct from hog.

altmode: n.,obs.
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Syn. alt sense 3. Old DEC terminology, now historical only.

AOS
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1. /aws/ (East Coast), /ay'os/ (West Coast) vt. obs. To increase the amount of something. “AOS the campfire.” [based on a PDP-10 increment instruction] Usage: considered silly, and now obsolete. Now largely supplanted by bump. See SOS.

2. n. A Multics-derived OS supported at one time by Data General. This was pronounced /A-O-S/ or /A-os/. A spoof of the standard AOS system administrator's manual (How to Load and Generate your AOS System) was created, issued a part number, and circulated as photocopy folklore; it was called How to Goad and Levitate your CHAOS System.

3. n. Algebraic Operating System, in reference to those calculators which use infix instead of postfix (reverse Polish) notation.

4. A BSD-like operating system for the IBM RT.

Historical note: AOS in sense 1 was the name of a PDP-10 instruction that took any memory location in the computer and added 1 to it; AOS meant `Add One and do not Skip'. Why, you may ask, does the `S' stand for `do not Skip' rather than for `Skip'? Ah, here was a beloved piece of PDP-10 folklore. There were eight such instructions: AOSE added 1 and then skipped the next instruction if the result was Equal to zero; AOSG added 1 and then skipped if the result was Greater than 0; AOSN added 1 and then skipped if the result was Not 0; AOSA added 1 and then skipped Always; and so on. Just plain AOS didn't say when to skip, so it never skipped.

For similar reasons, AOJ meant `Add One and do not Jump'. Even more bizarre, SKIP meant `do not SKIP'! If you wanted to skip the next instruction, you had to say `SKIPA'. Likewise, JUMP meant `do not JUMP'; the unconditional form was JUMPA. However, hackers never did this. By some quirk of the 10's design, the JRST (Jump and ReSTore flag with no flag specified) was actually faster and so was invariably used. Such were the perverse mysteries of assembler programming.

chine nual: /sheen'[email protected]/, n. obs.
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[MIT] The LISP Machine Manual, so called because the title was wrapped around the cover so only those letters showed on the front.

blow away: vt.
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To remove (files and directories) from permanent storage, usually by accident. “He reformatted the wrong partition and blew away last night's netnews”. Oppose nuke.

cruncha cruncha cruncha: /kruhn'[email protected] kruhn'[email protected] kruhn'[email protected]/, interj.
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An encouragement sometimes muttered to a machine bogged down in a serious grovel. Also describes a notional sound made by groveling hardware. See wugga wugga, grind (sense 3).

CTY: /sit'ee/, /C-T-Y/, n.
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[MIT] The terminal physically associated with a computer's system console. The term is a contraction of `Console tty', that is, `Console TeleTYpe'. This ITS- and TOPS-10-associated term has become less common, as most Unix hackers simply refer to the CTY as ‘the console’.

JRST: /jerst/, v.
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[based on the PDP-10 jump instruction] To suddenly change subjects, with no intention of returning to the previous topic.. Usage: rather rare, and considered silly. “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick; Jack jrst over the candle stick.” This is even sillier. Why JRST and not JUMP? The PDP-10 JUMP instruction means “do not jump”, as explained in the definition of AOS. The JUMPA instruction (“JUMP Always”) does jump, but it isn't quite as fast as the JRST instruction (Jump and ReSTore flags). The instruction was used so frequently that the speed matters, so all PDP-10 hackers automatically used the faster though more obscure JRST instruction.

news: n.
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See netnews.

fepped out: /fept owt/, adj.
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The Symbolics 3600 LISP Machine has a Front-End Processor called a `FEP' (compare sense 2 of box). When the main processor gets wedged, the FEP takes control of the keyboard and screen. Such a machine is said to have fepped out or dropped into the fep.

JFCL: /jif'kl/, /jaf'kl/, /[email protected]'kl/
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(alt. jfcl) To cancel or annul something. “Why don't you jfcl that out?” The fastest do-nothing instruction on older models of the PDP-10 happened to be JFCL, which stands for “Jump if Flag set and then CLear the flag”; this does something useful, but is a very fast no-operation if no flag is specified. Geoff Goodfellow, one of the Steele-1983 co-authors, had JFCL on the license plate of his BMW for years. Usage: rare except among old-time PDP-10 hackers.

PIP: /pip/
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[Peripheral Interchange Program] To copy; from the program PIP on CP/M, RSX-11, RSTS/E, TOPS-10, and OS/8 (derived from a utility on the PDP-6) that was used for file copying (and in OS/8 and RT-11 for just about every other file operation you might want to do). It is said that when the program was originated, during the development of the PDP-6 in 1963, it was called ATLATL (`Anything, Lord, to Anything, Lord'; this played on the Nahuatl word atlatl for a spear-thrower, with connotations of utility and primitivity that were no doubt quite intentional). See also BLT, dd, cat.

NOMEX underwear: /noh'meks uhn'-der-weir/, n.
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[Usenet] Syn. asbestos longjohns, used mostly in auto-related mailing lists and newsgroups. NOMEX underwear is an actual product available on the racing equipment market, used as a fire resistance measure and required in some racing series.

Pink-Shirt Book
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The Peter Norton Programmer's Guide to the IBM PC. The original cover featured a picture of Peter Norton with a silly smirk on his face, wearing a pink shirt. Perhaps in recognition of this usage, the current edition has a different picture of Norton wearing a pink shirt. See also book titles.

Deleted before 4.1.2

@Begin
\begin
<bobbit>
JR[LN]
@Begin: //
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See \begin.

\begin: //
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[from the LaTeX command] With \end, used humorously in writing to indicate a context or to remark on the surrounded text. For example:


\begin{flame}
Predicate logic is the only good programming
language.  Anyone who would use anything else
is an idiot.  Also, all computers should be
tredecimal instead of binary.
\end{flame}

The Scribe users at CMU and elsewhere used to use @Begin/@End in an identical way (LaTeX was built to resemble Scribe). On Usenet, this construct would more frequently be rendered as <FLAME ON> and <FLAME OFF>, or #ifdef FLAME and #endif FLAME. Recently the pseudo-HTML form <flame> ... </flame> has become popular.

<bobbit>: n.
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[Usenet: alt.folklore.urban and elsewhere] Commonly used as a placeholder for omitted text in a followup message (not copying the whole parent message is considered good form). Refers, of course, to the celebrated mutilation of John Bobbitt.

JR[LN]: /J-R-L/, /J-R-N/, n.
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The names JRL and JRN were sometimes used as example names when discussing a kind of user ID used under TOPS-10 and WAITS; they were understood to be the initials of (fictitious) programmers named `J. Random Loser' and `J. Random Nerd' (see J. Random). For example, if one said “To log in, type log one comma jay are en” (that is, “log 1,JRN”), the listener would have understood that he should use his own computer ID in place of `JRN'.

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computer geek
computer geek: n.
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1. One who eats (computer) bugs for a living. One who fulfills all the dreariest negative stereotypes about hackers: an asocial, malodorous, pasty-faced monomaniac with all the personality of a cheese grater. Cannot be used by outsiders without implied insult to all hackers; compare black-on-black vs. white-on-black usage of ‘nigger’. A computer geek may be either a fundamentally clueless individual or a proto-hacker in larval stage. Also called turbo nerd, turbo geek. See also propeller head, clustergeeking, geek out, wannabee, terminal junkie, spod, weenie.

2. Many self-described computer geeks use this term in a positive sense and protest sense 1; this seems to have been a post-1990 development which really started to gather steam after 1998. For one such argument, see http://www.darkwater.com/omni/geek.html. See also geek code.

Deleted before 4.3.1

Marginal Hacks
block transfer computations
bodysurf code
bot spot
branch to Fishkill
digit
DPB
gaseous
laundromat
Missed'em-five
NetBOLLIX
Pangloss parity
plingnet
pnambic
snivitz
twonkie
whalesong
'Snooze
TechRef
TELNET
USG Unix
SysVile
moose call
mouse around
Marginal Hacks: n.
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Margaret Jacks Hall, a building into which the Stanford AI Lab was moved near the beginning of the 1980s (from the D. C. Power Lab).

block transfer computations: n.
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[from the television series Dr. Who] Computations so fiendishly subtle and complex that they could not be performed by machines. Used to refer to any task that should be expressible as an algorithm in theory, but isn't. (The Z80's LDIR instruction, “Computed Block Transfer with increment”, may also be relevant.)

bodysurf code: n.
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A program or segment of code written quickly in the heat of inspiration without the benefit of formal design or deep thought. Like its namesake sport, the result is too often a wipeout that leaves the programmer eating sand.

bot spot: n.
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[MUD] The user on a MUD with the longest connect time. Derives from the fact that bots on MUDs often stay constantly connected and appear at the bottom of the list.

branch to Fishkill: n.
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[IBM: from the location of one of the corporation's facilities] Any unexpected jump in a program that produces catastrophic or just plain weird results. See jump off into never-never land, hyperspace.

digit: n.,obs.
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An employee of Digital Equipment Corporation. See also VAX, VMS, PDP-10, TOPS-10, field circus.

DPB: /[email protected]'/, vt.
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[from the PDP-10 instruction set] To plop something down in the middle. Usage: silly. “DPB yourself into that couch there.” The connotation would be that the couch is full except for one slot just big enough for one last person to sit in. DPB means `DePosit Byte', and was the name of a PDP-10 instruction that inserts some bits into the middle of some other bits. Hackish usage has been kept alive by the Common LISP function of the same name.

gaseous: adj.
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Deserving of being gassed. Disseminated by Geoff Goodfellow while at SRI; became particularly popular after the Moscone-Milk killings in San Francisco, when it was learned that the defendant Dan White (a politician who had supported Proposition 7) would get the gas chamber under Proposition 7 if convicted of first-degree murder (he was eventually convicted of manslaughter).

laundromat: n.
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Syn. disk farm; see washing machine.

Missed'em-five: n.
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Pejorative hackerism for AT&T System V Unix, generally used by BSD partisans in a bigoted mood. (The synonym `SysVile' is also encountered.) See software bloat, Berzerkeley.

NetBOLLIX: n.
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[from bollix: to bungle, or British ‘bollocks’] IBM's NetBIOS, an extremely brain-damaged network protocol that, like Blue Glue, is used at commercial shops that don't know any better.

Pangloss parity: n.
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[from Dr. Pangloss, the eternal optimist in Voltaire's Candide] In corporate DP shops, a common condition of severe but equally shared lossage resulting from the theory that as long as everyone in the organization has the exactly the same model of obsolete computer, everything will be fine.

plingnet: /pling'net/, n.
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Syn. UUCPNET. Also see Commonwealth Hackish, which uses ‘pling’ for bang (as in bang path).

pnambic: /[email protected]'bik/
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[Acronym from the scene in the film version of The Wizard of Oz in which the true nature of the wizard is first discovered: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”]

A stage of development of a process or function that, owing to incomplete implementation or to the complexity of the system, requires human interaction to simulate or replace some or all of the actions, inputs, or outputs of the process or function.

2. Of or pertaining to a process or function whose apparent operations are wholly or partially falsified.

3. Requiring prestidigitization.

The ultimate pnambic product was “Dan Bricklin's Demo”, a program which supported flashy user-interface design prototyping. There is a related maxim among hackers: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.” See magic, sense 1, for illumination of this point.

snivitz: /sniv'itz/, n.
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A hiccup in hardware or software; a small, transient problem of unknown origin (less serious than a snark). Compare glitch.

twonkie: /twon'kee/, n.
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The software equivalent of a Twinkie (a variety of sugar-loaded junk food, or (in gay slang with a small t) the male equivalent of ‘chick’); a useless ‘feature’ added to look sexy and placate a marketroid (compare Saturday-night special). The term may also be related to The Twonky, title menace of a classic SF short story by Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore), first published in the September 1942 Astounding Science Fiction and subsequently much anthologized.

whalesong: n.
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The peculiar clicking and whooshing sounds made by a PEP modem such as the Telebit Trailblazer as it tries to synchronize with another PEP modem for their special high-speed mode. This sound isn't anything like the normal two-tone handshake between conventional V-series modems and is instantly recognizable to anyone who has heard it more than once. It sounds, in fact, very much like whale songs. This noise is also called “the moose call” or “moose tones”.

'Snooze: /snooz/, n.
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Fidonews, the weekly official on-line newsletter of FidoNet. As the editorial policy of Fidonews is “anything that arrives, we print”, there are often large articles completely unrelated to FidoNet, which in turn tend to elicit flamage in subsequent issues.

TechRef: /tek'ref/, n.
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[MS-DOS] The original IBM PC Technical Reference Manual, including the BIOS listing and complete schematics for the PC. The only PC documentation in the original-issue package that was considered serious by real hackers.

TELNET: /tel'net/, vt.
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(also commonly lowercased as telnet) To communicate with another Internet host using the TELNET (RFC 854) protocol (usually using a program of the same name). TOPS-10 people used the word IMPCOM, since that was the program name for them. Sometimes abbreviated to TN /T-N/. “I usually TN over to SAIL just to read the AP News.

USG Unix: /U-S-G yoo'niks/, n.,obs.
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Refers to AT&T Unix commercial versions after Version 7, especially System III and System V releases 1, 2, and 3. So called because during most of the life­span of those versions AT&T's support crew was called the `Unix Support Group', but it is applied to version that pre- and post-dated the USG group but were of the same lineage. This term is now historical. See BSD, Unix.

SysVile: /sis-vi:l'/, n.
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See Missed'em-five.

moose call: n.
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See whalesong.

mouse around: vi.
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To explore public portions of a large system, esp.: a network such as Internet via FTP or telnet, looking for interesting stuff to snarf.

Deleted before 4.3.2

120 reset
Black Thursday
POPJ
Internet address
wallpaper
interrupt list
bum
120 reset: /wuhn-twen'tee ree'set/, n.
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[from 120 volts, U.S. wall voltage] To cycle power on a machine in order to reset or unjam it. Compare Big Red Switch, power cycle.

Black Thursday: n.
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February 8th, 1996 -- the day of the signing into law of the CDA, so called by analogy with the catastrophic “Black Friday” in 1929 that began the Great Depression.

POPJ: /pop'J/, n.,v.
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[from a PDP-10 return-from-subroutine instruction] To return from a digression. By verb doubling, “Popj, popj” means roughly “Now let's see, where were we?” See RTI.

Internet address: n.
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1. [techspeak] An absolute network address of the form [email protected], where foo is a user name, bar is a sitename, and baz is a domain name, possibly including periods itself. Contrast with bang path; see also the network and network address. All Internet machines and most UUCP sites can now resolve these addresses, thanks to a large amount of behind-the-scenes magic and PD software written since 1980 or so. See also bang path, domainist.

2. More loosely, any network address reachable through Internet; this includes bang path addresses and some internal corporate and government networks.

Reading Internet addresses is something of an art. Here are the four most important top-level functional Internet domains followed by a selection of geographical domains:

comcommercial organizations
edueducational institutions
govU.S. government civilian sites
milU.S. military sites

Note that most of the sites in the com and edu domains are in the U.S. or Canada.

ussites in the U.S. outside the functional domains
susites in the ex-Soviet Union (see kremvax).
uksites in the United Kingdom

Within the us domain, there are subdomains for the fifty states, each generally with a name identical to the state's postal abbreviation. Within the uk domain, there is an ac subdomain for academic sites and a co domain for commercial ones. Other top-level domains may be divided up in similar ways.

wallpaper: n.
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1. A file containing a listing (e.g., assembly listing) or a transcript, esp.: a file containing a transcript of all or part of a login session. (The idea was that the paper for such listings was essentially good only for wallpaper, as evidenced at Stanford, where it was used to cover windows.) Now rare, esp.: since other systems have developed other terms for it (e.g., PHOTO on TWENEX). However, the Unix world doesn't have an equivalent term, so perhaps wallpaper will take hold there. The term probably originated on ITS, where the commands to begin and end transcript files were :WALBEG and :WALEND, with default file WALL PAPER (the space was a path delimiter).

2. The background pattern used on graphical workstations (this is techspeak under the ‘Windows’ graphical user interface to MS-DOS).

3. wallpaper file n. The file that contains the wallpaper information before it is actually printed on paper. (Even if you don't intend ever to produce a real paper copy of the file, it is still called a wallpaper file.)

interrupt list: n.
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[MS-DOS] The list of all known software interrupt calls (both documented and undocumented) for IBM PCs and compatibles, maintained and made available for free redistribution by Ralf Brown @email{<[email protected]>}. As of late 1992, it had grown to approximately two megabytes in length.

bum
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1. vt. To make highly efficient, either in time or space, often at the expense of clarity. “I managed to bum three more instructions out of that code.” “I spent half the night bumming the interrupt code.” In 1996, this term and the practice it describes are semi-obsolete. In elder days, John McCarthy (inventor of LISP) used to compare some efficiency-obsessed hackers among his students to “ski bums”; thus, optimization became “program bumming”, and eventually just “bumming”. 2. To squeeze out excess; to remove something in order to improve whatever it was removed from (without changing function; this distinguishes the process from a featurectomy). 3. n. A small change to an algorithm, program, or hardware device to make it more efficient. “This hardware bum makes the jump instruction faster.” Usage: now uncommon, largely superseded by v. tune (and n. tweak, hack), though none of these exactly capture sense

2. All these uses are rare in Commonwealth hackish, because in the parent dialects of English the noun ‘bum’ is a rude synonym for ‘buttocks’ and the verb ‘bum’ for buggery.

Deleted before 4.3.3

all-elbows
all-elbows: adj.
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[MS-DOS] Of a TSR (terminate-and-stay-resident) IBM PC program, such as the N pop-up calendar and calculator utilities that circulate on BBS systems: unsociable. Used to describe a program that rudely steals the resources that it needs without considering that other TSRs may also be resident. One particularly common form of rudeness is lock-up due to programs fighting over the keyboard interrupt. See rude, also mess-dos.

Deleted before 4.4.0

PPN
gurfle
cycle drought
dup loop
Nominal Semidestructor
acolyte
Ada
AIDS
AIDX
amoeba
ANSI
backspace and overstrike
banana label
baud barf
berklix
BITNET
bixen
blink
buglix
can
card walloper
corge
cray instability
crayola
crayon
cubing
cycle crunch
D. C. Power Lab
dead link
cray
domainist
donuts
dup killer
earthquake
farming
Fight-o-net
File Attach
File Request
firmy
FTP
FUD wars
fuzzball
gabriel
gripenet
gun
Gosperism
grault
haque
hobbit
humma
IBM discount
inc
jolix
lace card
lasherism
LDB
macrotape
microfloppies
minifloppies
GFR
multician
netrock
nroff
round tape
Telerat
ventilator card
PC-ism
Helen Keller mode
node
OSU
P-mail
square tape
PETSCII
rib site
rice box
rusty memory
ScumOS
sidecar
tall card
terpri
UUCPNET
VAXectomy
vaxherd
vaxism
W2K bug
woofer
Yellow Book
slap on the side
tweeter
SOS
stiffy
short card
Silver Book
Devil Book
crayola books
4.2
AI koans
Big Gray Wall
Blue Book
Green Book
Red Book
White Book
BQS
brochureware
desk check
echo
fd leak
g-file
gag
machinable
lexiphage
line starve
LPT
PDL
overflow pdl
pod
PPN: /pip'n/
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1. A combination of a “project identifier” and “programmer name”, used to identify a specific file directory belonging to that programmer. This was used in the TOPS-10 operating system that DEC provided for the PDP-10. The implicit assumption is that there will be many projects, each with several programmers working on it, and that a programmer may work on several projects. This is not a bad organization; what was totally bogus is that projects and programmers were identified by octal (base eight) numbers! Hence the term Project-Programmer Number, or PPN. If you were programmer 72534 and wanted to work on project 306, you would have had to tell the computer “login 306,72534”. This was absurd. At CMU the TOPS-10 system was modified to be somewhat less ridiculous: projects were identified by a letter and three decimal (not octal) digits, and programmers were identified by his two initials, a digit indicating the first year he came to CMU, and a fourth character that is used to distinguish between, say, Fred Loser and Farley Luser who both happened to arrive the same year. So to use the PDP-10 at CMU one might have said “login A780GS70”. The programmer name “GS70” was also called a “man number” at CMU, even though it isn't really a number. At Stanford, projects and programmers were identified by three letters or digits each: if Guy Steele werre to work on a LISP project at Stanford, he might log in as “login lsp,gls”. This was much more mnemonic. Programmer identifiers at Stanford were usually the programmer's initials, though sometimes it is a nickname or other three-letter sequence. Even though the CMU and Stanford forms were not really (pairs of) numbers, the term PPN was used to refer to the combination.

2. At Stanford, the term PPN was often used loosely to refer to the programmer name alone. “I want to send you some mail; what's your ppn?.” This term is still used by old-timers on the commercial time-sharing service CompuServe (which uses PDP-10s) but has long since vanished from hackerdom. ITS and UNIX, of course, never used PPNs; ITS had six-character UNAMEs, and UNIX has 8 or 15-character `usernames' and a hierarchical file system rather than project areas.

gurfle: /ger'fl/, interj.
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An expression of shocked disbelief. “He said we have to recode this thing in FORTRAN by next week. Gurfle!” Compare weeble.

cycle drought: n.
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A scarcity of cycles. It may be due to a cycle crunch, but it could also occur because part of the computer is temporarily not working, leaving fewer cycles to go around. “The high moby is down, so we're running with only half the usual amount of memory. There will be a cycle drought until it's fixed.

dup loop: /d[y]oop loop/, dupe loop, n.
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[FidoNet] An infinite stream of duplicated, near-identical messages on a FidoNet echo, the only difference being unique or mangled identification information applied by a faulty or incorrectly configured system or network gateway, thus rendering dup killers ineffective. If such a duplicate message eventually reaches a system through which it has already passed (with the original identification information), all systems passed on the way back to that system are said to be involved in a dup loop.

Nominal Semidestructor: n.
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Soundalike slang for ‘National Semiconductor’, found among other places in the Networking/2 networking sources. During the late 1970s to mid-1980s this company marketed a series of microprocessors including the NS16000 and NS32000 and several variants. At one point early in the great microprocessor race, the specs on these chips made them look like serious competition for the rising Intel 80x86 and Motorola 680x0 series. Unfortunately, the actual parts were notoriously flaky and never implemented the full instruction set promised in their literature, apparently because the company couldn't get any of the mask steppings to work as designed. They eventually sank without trace, joining the Zilog Z8000 and a few even more obscure also-rans in the graveyard of forgotten microprocessors. Compare HP-SUX, AIDX, buglix, Macintrash, Telerat, ScumOS, sun-stools, Slowlaris, Internet Exploder.

acolyte: n. obs.
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[TMRC] An OSU privileged enough to submit data and programs to a member of the priesthood.

Ada: n.
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A Pascal-descended language that was at one time made mandatory for Department of Defense software projects by the Pentagon. Hackers are nearly unanimous in observing that, technically, it is precisely what one might expect given that kind of endorsement by fiat; bloated, crockish, difficult to use, and overall a disastrous, multi-billion-dollar boondoggle (one common description was “The PL/I of the 1980s”). The kindest thing that has been said about it is that there is probably a good small language screaming to get out from inside its vast, elephantine bulk.

Nowadays we say this of Ada.

AIDS: /aydz/, n.
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Short for A* Infected Disk Syndrome (`A*' is a glob pattern that matches, but is not limited to, Apple or Amiga), this condition is quite often the result of practicing unsafe SEX. See virus, worm, Trojan horse, virgin.

AIDX: /ayd'[email protected]/, n.
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Derogatory term for IBM's perverted version of Unix, AIX, especially for the AIX 3.? used in the IBM RS/6000 series (some hackers think it is funnier just to pronounce “AIX” as “aches”). A victim of the dreaded “hybridism” disease, this attempt to combine the two main currents of the Unix stream (BSD and USG Unix) became a monstrosity to haunt system administrators' dreams. For example, if new accounts are created while many users are logged on, the load average jumps quickly over 20 due to silly implementation of the user databases. For a quite similar disease, compare HP-SUX. Also, compare Macintrash, ScumOS, sun-stools.

amoeba: n.
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Humorous term for the Commodore Amiga personal computer.

ANSI: /an'see/
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1. n. [techspeak] The American National Standards Institute. ANSI, along with the International Organization for Standards (ISO), standardized the C programming language (see K&R, Classic C), and promulgates many other important software standards.

2. n. [techspeak] A terminal may be said to be `ANSI' if it meets the ANSI X3.64 standard for terminal control. Unfortunately, this standard was both over-complicated and too permissive. It has been retired and replaced by the ECMA-48 standard, which shares both flaws.

3. n. [BBS jargon] The set of screen-painting codes that most MS-DOS/Windows and Amiga computers accept. This comes from the ANSI.SYS device driver that had to be loaded on an MS-DOS computer to view such codes. Unfortunately, neither DOS ANSI nor the BBS ANSIs derived from it exactly match the ANSI X3.64 terminal standard. For example, the ESC-[1m code turns on the bold highlight on large machines, but in IBM PC/MS-DOS ANSI, it turns on `intense' (bright) colors. Also, in BBS-land, the term `ANSI' is often used to imply that a particular computer uses or can emulate the IBM high-half character set from MS-DOS/Windows. Particular use depends on context. Occasionally, the vanilla ASCII character set is used with the color codes, but on BBSs, ANSI and `IBM characters' tend to go together.

backspace and overstrike: interj.
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[rare] Whoa! Back up. Used to suggest that someone just said or did something wrong. Once common among APL programmers; may now be obsolete.

banana label: n.
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The labels often used on the sides of macrotape reels, so called because they are shaped roughly like blunt-ended bananas. This term, like macrotapes themselves, is still current but visibly headed for obsolescence.

baud barf: /bawd barf/, n.
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The garbage one gets on a terminal (or terminal emulator) when using a modem connection with some protocol setting (esp.: line speed) incorrect, or when someone picks up a voice extension on the same line, or when really bad line noise disrupts the connection. Baud barf is not completely random, by the way; hackers with a lot of serial-line experience can usually tell whether the device at the other end is expecting a higher or lower speed than the terminal is set to. Really experienced ones can identify particular speeds.

berklix: /berk'liks/, n.,adj.
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[contraction of `Berkeley Unix'] See BSD. Not used at Berkeley itself. May be more common among suits attempting to sound like cognoscenti than among hackers, who usually just say `BSD'.

BITNET: /bit'net/, n., obs.
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[acronym: Because It's Time NETwork] Everybody's least favorite piece of the network (see the network) -- until AOL happened. The BITNET hosts were a collection of IBM dinosaurs and VAXen (the latter with lobotomized comm hardware) that communicated using 80-character EBCDIC card images (see eighty-column mind); thus, they tended to mangle the headers and text of third-party traffic from the rest of the ASCII/RFC-822 world with annoying regularity. BITNET was also notorious as the apparent home of B1FF. By 1995 it had, much to everyone's relief, been obsolesced and absorbed into the Internet. Unfortunately, around this time we also got AOL.

bixen: pl.n.
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Users of BIX (the BIX Information eXchange, formerly the Byte Information eXchange). Parallels other plurals like boxen, VAXen, oxen.

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To use a navigator or off-line message reader to minimize time spent on-line to a commercial network service (a necessity in many places outside the U.S. where the telecoms monopolies charge per-minute for local calls). This term attained wide use in the UK, but is rare or unknown in the US.

buglix: /buhg'liks/, n.
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[uncommon] Pejorative term referring to DEC's ULTRIX operating system in its earlier severely buggy versions. Still used to describe ULTRIX, but without nearly so much venom. Compare AIDX, HP-SUX, Telerat, sun-stools.

can: vt.
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To abort a job on a time-sharing system. Used esp.: when the person doing the deed is an operator, as in “canned from the console”. Frequently used in an imperative sense, as in “Can that print job, the LPT just popped a sprocket!” Synonymous with gun. It is said that the ASCII character with mnemonic CAN (0011000) was used as a kill-job character on some early OSes, but this is more likely to be short for cancel. Alternatively, this term may derive from mainstream slang ‘canned’ for being laid off or fired.

card walloper: n.
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An EDP programmer who grinds out batch programs that do stupid things like print people's paychecks. Compare code grinder. See also punched card, eighty-column mind.

corge: /korj/, n.
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[originally, the name of a cat] Yet another metasyntactic variable, invented by Mike Gallaher and propagated by the GOSMACS documentation. See grault.

cray instability: n.
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1. A shortcoming of a program or algorithm that manifests itself only when a large problem is being run on a powerful machine (see cray). Generally more subtle than bugs that can be detected in smaller problems running on a workstation or mini.

2. More specifically, a shortcoming of algorithms which are well behaved when run on gentle floating point hardware (such as IEEE-standard or PDP-series machines) but which break down badly when exposed to a Cray's unique `rounding' rules.

crayola: /kray-oh'[email protected]/, n.
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A super-mini or -micro computer that provides some reasonable percentage of supercomputer performance for an unreasonably low price. Might also be a killer micro.

crayon: n.
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1. Someone who works on Cray supercomputers. More specifically, it implies a programmer, probably of the CDC ilk, probably male, and almost certainly wearing a tie (irrespective of gender). Systems types who have a Unix background tend not to be described as crayons.

2. Formerly, anyone who worked for Cray Research; since the buyout by SGI, anyone they inherited from Cray. Nowadays, often applied to any SGI employee who either works at one of the former Cray Research facilities (i.e. Eagan Minnesota and Chippewa Falls Wisconsin) or works primarily in vector computing aspects of the business. Sometimes considered mildly offensive by those to whom it is applied, particularly those whose work has nothing to do with vector computing.

3. A computron (sense 2) that participates only in number-crunching.

4. A unit of computational power equal to that of a single Cray-1. There is a standard joke about this usage that derives from an old Crayola crayon promotional gimmick: When you buy 64 crayons you get a free sharpener.

cubing: vi.
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[parallel with ‘tubing’]

1. Hacking on an IPSC (Intel Personal SuperComputer) hypercube. “Louella's gone cubing again!!

2. Hacking Rubik's Cube or related puzzles, either physically or mathematically.

3. An indescribable form of self-torture (see sense 1 or 2).

cycle crunch: n.,obs.
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A situation wherein the number of people trying to use a computer simultaneously has reached the point where no one can get enough cycles because they are spread too thin and the system has probably begun to thrash. This scenario is an inevitable result of Parkinson's Law applied to timesharing. Usually the only solution is to buy more computer. Happily, this has rapidly become easier since the mid-1980s, so much so that the very term `cycle crunch' now has a faintly archaic flavor; most hackers now use workstations or personal computers as opposed to traditional timesharing systems, and are far more likely to complain of `bandwidth crunch' on their shared networks rather than cycle crunch.

D. C. Power Lab: n.
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The former site of SAIL. Hackers thought this was very funny because the obvious connection to electrical engineering was nonexistent — the lab was named for a Donald C. Power.

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[very common] A World-Wide-Web URL that no longer points to the information it was written to reach. Usually this happens because the document has been moved or deleted. Lots of dead links make a WWW page frustrating and useless and are the #1 sign of poor page maintainance. Compare dangling pointer, link rot.

cray: /kray/, n.
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1. (properly, capitalized) One of the line of supercomputers designed by Cray Research.

2. Any supercomputer at all.

3. The canonical number-crunching machine.

The term is actually the lowercased last name of Seymour Cray, a noted computer architect and co-founder of the company. Numerous vivid legends surround him, some true and some admittedly invented by Cray Research brass to shape their corporate culture and image.

domainist: /doh-mayn'ist/, adj.
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1. [Usenet, by pointed analogy with “sexist”, “racist”, etc.] Someone who judges people by the domain of their email addresses; esp. someone who dismisses anyone who posts from a public internet provider. “What do you expect from an article posted from aol.com?

2. Said of an Internet address (as opposed to a bang path) because the part to the right of the @ specifies a nested series of domains; for example, @email{[email protected]} specifies the machine called snark in the subdomain called thyrsus within the top-level domain called com. See also big-endian, sense 2.

The meaning of this term has drifted. At one time sense 2 was primary. In elder days it was also used of a site, mailer, or routing program which knew how to handle domainist addresses; or of a person (esp.: a site admin) who preferred domain addressing, supported a domainist mailer, or proselytized for domainist addressing and disdained bang paths. These senses are now (1996) obsolete, as effectively all sites have converted.

donuts: n
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[obs.] A collective noun for any set of memory bits. This usage is extremely archaic and may no longer be live jargon; it dates from the days of ferrite-core memories in which each bit was implemented by a doughnut-shaped magnetic flip-flop.

dup killer: /d[y]oop kill'r/, n.
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[FidoNet] Software that is supposed to detect and delete duplicates of a message that may have reached the FidoNet system via different routes.

earthquake: n.
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[IBM] The ultimate real-world shock test for computer hardware. Hackish sources at IBM deny the rumor that the Bay Area quake of 1989 was initiated by the company to test quality-assurance procedures at its California plants.

farming: n.
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[Adelaide University, Australia] What the heads of a disk drive are said to do when they plow little furrows in the magnetic media. Associated with a crash. Typically used as follows: “Oh no, the machine has just crashed; I hope the hard drive hasn't gone farming again.” Now rare; modern drives automatically park their heads in a safe zone on power-down, so it takes a real mechanical problem to induce this.

Fight-o-net: n.
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[FidoNet] Deliberate distortion of FidoNet, often applied after a flurry of flamage in a particular echo, especially the SYSOP echo or Fidonews.

File Attach:
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1. n. A file sent along with a mail message from one FidoNet to another.

2. vt. Sending someone a file by using the File Attach option in a FidoNet mailer.

File Request
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[FidoNet]

1. n. The FidoNet equivalent of FTP, in which one FidoNet system automatically dials another and snarfs one or more files. Often abbreviated FReq; files are often announced as being “available for FReq” in the same way that files are announced as being “available for/by anonymous FTP” on the Internet.

2. vt. The act of getting a copy of a file by using the File Request option of the FidoNet mailer.

firmy: /fer'mee/, n.
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Syn. stiffy (a 3.5-inch floppy disk).

FTP: /F-T-P/, not, /fit'ip/
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1. [techspeak] n. The File Transfer Protocol for transmitting files between systems on the Internet.

2. vt. To beam a file using the File Transfer Protocol.

3. Sometimes used as a generic even for file transfers not using FTP. “Lemme get a copy of Wuthering Heights ftp'd from uunet.

FUD wars: /fuhd worz/, n.
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[from FUD] Political posturing engaged in by hardware and software vendors ostensibly committed to standardization but actually willing to fragment the market to protect their own shares. The Unix International vs.: OSF conflict about Unix standards was one outstanding example; Microsoft vs. Netscape vs. W3C about HTML standards is another.

fuzzball: n.
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[TCP/IP hackers] A DEC LSI-11 running a particular suite of homebrewed software written by Dave Mills and assorted co-conspirators, used in the early 1980s for Internet protocol testbedding and experimentation. These were used as NSFnet backbone sites in its early 56kb-line days; a few were still active on the Internet as late as mid-1993, doing odd jobs such as network time service.

gabriel: /gay'[email protected]/, n.
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[for Dick Gabriel, SAIL LISP hacker and volleyball fanatic] An unnecessary (in the opinion of the opponent) stalling tactic, e.g., tying one's shoelaces or combing one's hair repeatedly, asking the time, etc. Also used to refer to the perpetrator of such tactics. Also, pulling a Gabriel, Gabriel mode.

gripenet: n.
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[IBM] A wry (and thoroughly unofficial) name for IBM's internal VNET system, deriving from its common use by IBMers to voice pointed criticism of IBM management that would be taboo in more formal channels.

gun: vt.
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[ITS, now rare: from the :GUN command] To forcibly terminate a program or job (computer, not career). “Some idiot left a background process running soaking up half the cycles, so I gunned it.” Compare can, blammo.

Gosperism: /gos'[email protected]/, n.
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A hack, invention, or saying due to elder days arch-hacker R. William (Bill) Gosper. This notion merits its own term because there are so many of them. Many of the entries in HAKMEM are Gosperisms; see also life.

grault: /grawlt/, n.
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Yet another metasyntactic variable, invented by Mike Gallaher and propagated by the GOSMACS documentation. See corge.

haque: /hak/, n.
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[Usenet] Variant spelling of hack, used only for the noun form and connoting an elegant hack, that is a hack in sense 2.

hobbit: n.
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1. [rare] The High Order BIT of a byte; same as the meta bit or high bit.

2. The non-ITS name of @email{[email protected]} (*Hobbit*), master of lasers.

humma: //, excl.
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A filler word used on various chat and talk programs when you had nothing to say but felt that it was important to say something. The word apparently originated (at least with this definition) on the MECC Timeshare System (MTS, a now-defunct educational time-sharing system running in Minnesota during the 1970s and the early 1980s) but was later sighted on early Unix systems. Compare the U.K's wibble.

IBM discount: n.
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A price increase. Outside IBM, this derives from the common perception that IBM products are generally overpriced (see clone); inside, it is said to spring from a belief that large numbers of IBM employees living in an area cause prices to rise.

inc: /ink/, v.
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Verbal (and only rarely written) shorthand for increment, i.e. ‘increase by one’. Especially used by assembly programmers, as many assembly languages have an inc mnemonic. Antonym: dec (see DEC).

jolix: /joh'liks/, n.,adj.
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386BSD, the freeware port of the BSD Net/2 release to the Intel i386 architecture by Bill Jolitz, Lynne Greer Jolitz, and friends. Used to differentiate from BSDI's port based on the same source tape, which used to be called BSD/386 and is now BSD/OS. See BSD.

lace card: n. obs.
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A punched card with all holes punched (also called a whoopee card or ventilator card). Card readers tended to jam when they got to one of these, as the resulting card had too little structural strength to avoid buckling inside the mechanism. Card punches could also jam trying to produce these things owing to power-supply problems. When some practical joker fed a lace card through the reader, you needed to clear the jam with a card knife — which you used on the joker first.

lasherism: n.
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[Harvard] A program that solves a standard problem (such as the Eight Queens puzzle or implementing the life algorithm) in a deliberately nonstandard way. Distinguished from a crock or kluge by the fact that the programmer did it on purpose as a mental exercise. Such constructions are quite popular in exercises such as the Obfuscated C Contest, and occasionally in retrocomputing. Lew Lasher was a student at Harvard around 1980 who became notorious for such behavior.

LDB: /[email protected]'[email protected]/, vt.
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[from the PDP-10 instruction set] To extract from the middle. “LDB me a slice of cake, please.” This usage has been kept alive by Common LISP's function of the same name. Considered silly.

macrotape: /mak'roh-tayp/, n.
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An industry-standard reel of tape. Originally, as opposed to a DEC microtape; nowadays, as opposed to modern QIC and DDS tapes. Syn. round tape.

microfloppies: n.
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3.5-inch floppies, as opposed to 5.25-inch vanilla or mini-floppies and the now-obsolete 8-inch variety. This term may be headed for obsolescence as 5.25-inchers pass out of use, only to be revived if anybody floats a sub-3-inch floppy standard. See stiffy, minifloppies.

minifloppies: n.,obs.
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5.25-inch floppy disks, as opposed to 3.5-inch or microfloppies and the long-obsolescent 8-inch variety (if there is ever a smaller size, they will undoubtedly be tagged nanofloppies). At one time, this term was a trademark of Shugart Associates for their SA-400 minifloppy drive. Nobody paid any attention. See stiffy.

GFR: /G-F-R/, vt.
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[ITS: from `Grim File Reaper', an ITS and LISP Machine utility] To remove a file or files according to some program-automated or semi-automatic manual procedure, especially one designed to reclaim mass storage space or reduce name-space clutter (the original GFR actually moved files to tape). Often generalized to pieces of data below file level. “I used to have his phone number, but I guess I GFRed it.” See also prowler, reaper. Compare GC, which discards only provably worthless stuff.

multician: /muhl-ti'shn/, n.
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[coined at Honeywell, ca. 1970] Competent user of Multics. Perhaps oddly, no one has ever promoted the analogous `Unician'.

netrock: /net'rok/, n.
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[IBM] A flame; used esp.: on VNET, IBM's internal corporate network.

nroff: /N'rof/
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n. [Unix, from “new roff” (see troff)] A companion program to the Unix typesetter troff, accepting identical input but preparing output for terminals and line printers.

round tape: n.
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Industry-standard 1/2-inch magnetic tape (7- or 9-track) on traditional circular reels. See macrotape, oppose square tape.

Telerat: /tel'@-rat/, n. obs.
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Unflattering hackerism for `Teleray', a now-extinct line of extremely losing terminals. Compare AIDX, Macintrash ScumOS, sun-stools, HP-SUX, Slowlaris.

ventilator card: n.
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Syn. lace card.

PC-ism: /P-C-izm/, n.
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A piece of code or coding technique that takes advantage of the unprotected single-tasking environment in IBM PCs and the like running DOS, e.g., by busy-waiting on a hardware register, direct diddling of screen memory, or using hard timing loops. Compare ill-behaved, vaxism, unixism. Also, PC-ware n., a program full of PC-isms on a machine with a more capable operating system. Pejorative.

Helen Keller mode: n.
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1. State of a hardware or software system that is deaf, dumb, and blind, i.e., accepting no input and generating no output, usually due to an infinite loop or some other excursion into deep space. (Unfair to the real Helen Keller, whose success at learning speech was triumphant.) See also go flatline, catatonic.

2. On IBM PCs under DOS, refers to a specific failure mode in which a screen saver has kicked in over an ill-behaved application which bypasses the very interrupts the screen saver watches for activity. Your choices are to try to get from the program's current state through a successful save-and-exit without being able to see what you're doing, or to re-boot the machine. This isn't (strictly speaking) a crash.

node: n.
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1. [Internet, UUCP] A host machine on the network.

2. [MS-DOS BBSes] A dial-in line on a BBS. Thus an MS-DOS sysop might say that his BBS has 4 nodes even though it has a single machine and no Internet link, confusing an Internet hacker no end.

OSU: /O-S-U/, n. obs.
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[TMRC] Acronym for Officially Sanctioned User; a user who is recognized as such by the computer authorities and allowed to use the computer above the objections of the security monitor.

P-mail: n.
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[rare] Physical mail, as opposed to email. Synonymous with snail-mail, but much less common.

square tape: n.
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Mainframe magnetic tape cartridges for use with IBM 3480 or compatible tape drives; or QIC tapes used on workstations and micros. The term comes from the square (actually rectangular) shape of the cartridges; contrast round tape.

PETSCII: /pet'skee/, n. obs.
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[abbreviation of PET ASCII] The variation (many would say perversion) of the ASCII character set used by the Commodore Business Machines PET series of personal computers and the later Commodore C64, C16, C128, and VIC20 machines. The PETSCII set used left-arrow and up-arrow (as in old-style ASCII) instead of underscore and caret, placed the unshifted alphabet at positions 65--90, put the shifted alphabet at positions 193--218, and added graphics characters.

rib site: n.
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[by analogy with backbone site] A machine that has an on-demand high-speed link to a backbone site and serves as a regional distribution point for lots of third-party traffic in email and Usenet news. Compare leaf site, backbone site.

rice box: n.
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[from ham radio slang] Any Asian-made commodity computer, esp.: an 80x86-based machine built to IBM PC-compatible ISA or EISA-bus standards.

rusty memory: n.
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Mass-storage that uses iron-oxide-based magnetic media (esp.: tape and the pre-Winchester removable disk packs used in washing machines).

ScumOS: /skuhm'os/, /skuhm'O-S/, n.
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Unflattering hackerism for SunOS, the BSD Unix variant supported on Sun Microsystems's Unix workstations (see also sun-stools), and compare Macintrash, HP-SUX. Despite what this term might suggest, Sun was founded by hackers and still enjoys excellent relations with hackerdom; usage is more often in exasperation than outright loathing.

sidecar: n.
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1. Syn. slap on the side. Esp.: used of add-ons for the late and unlamented IBM PCjr.

2. The IBM PC compatibility box that could be bolted onto the side of an Amiga. Designed and produced by Commodore, it broke all of the company's own design rules. If it worked with any other peripherals, it was by magic.

3. More generally, any of various devices designed to be connected to the expansion slot on the left side of the Amiga 500 (and later, 600 & 1200), which included a hard drive controller, a hard drive, and additional memory.

tall card: n.
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A PC/AT-size expansion card (these can be larger than IBM PC or XT cards because the AT case is bigger). See also short card. When IBM introduced the PS/2 model 30 (its last gasp at supporting the ISA) they made the case lower and many industry-standard tall cards wouldn't fit; this was felt to be a reincarnation of the connector conspiracy, done with less style.

terpri: /ter'pree/, vi.
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[from LISP 1.5 (and later, MacLISP)] To output a newline. Now rare as jargon, though still used as techspeak in Common LISP. It is a contraction of `TERminate PRInt line', named for the fact that, on some early OSes and hardware, no characters would be printed until a complete line was formed, so this operation terminated the line and emitted the output.

UUCPNET: n. obs.
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The store-and-forward network consisting of all the world's connected Unix machines (and others running some clone of the UUCP (Unix-to-Unix CoPy) software). Any machine reachable only via a bang path is on UUCPNET. This term has been rendered obsolescent by the spread of cheap Internet connections in the 1990s; the few remaining UUCP links are essentially slow channels to the Internet rather than an autonomous network. See network address.

VAXectomy: /vak-sek'[email protected]/, n.
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[by analogy with ‘vasectomy’] A VAX removal. DEC's Microvaxen, especially, are much slower than newer RISC-based workstations such as the SPARC. Thus, if one knows one has a replacement coming, VAX removal can be cause for celebration.

vaxherd: /vaks'herd/, n. obs.
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[from ‘oxherd’] A VAX operator. The image is reinforced because VAXen actually did tend to come in herds, technically known as clusters.

vaxism: /vak'sizm/, n.
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A piece of code that exhibits vaxocentrism in critical areas. Compare unixism.

W2K bug
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[from `Y2K bug' for the Year 2000 problem] The deployment of Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system, which hackers generally expect will turn out to have been among the worst train wrecks in the history of software engineering. Such is the power of Microsoft marketing, however, that it is also expected this will not become obvious until it has incurred hundreds of millions of dollars in downtime and lost opportunity costs.

woofer: n.
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[University of Waterloo] Some varieties of wide paper for printers have a perforation 8.5 inches from the left margin that allows the excess on the right-hand side to be torn off when the print format is 80 columns or less wide. The right-hand excess may be called ‘woofer’. This term (like tweeter) has been in use at Waterloo since 1972, but is elsewhere unknown. In audio jargon, the word refers to the bass speaker(s) on a hi-fi.

Yellow Book: n.
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The print version of this Jargon File; The New Hacker's Dictionary from MIT Press; The book includes essentially all the material in the File, plus a Foreword by Guy L.: Steele Jr. and a Preface by Eric S. Raymond. Most importantly, the book version is nicely typeset and includes almost all of the infamous Crunchly cartoons by the Great Quux, each attached to an appropriate entry. The first edition (1991, ISBN 0-262-68069-6) corresponded to the Jargon File version 2.9.6. The second edition (1993, ISBN 0-262-68079-3) corresponded to the Jargon File 3.0.0. The third (1996, ISBN 0-262-68092-0) corresponded to 4.0.0.

slap on the side: n.
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(also called a sidecar, or abbreviated SOTS.) A type of external expansion hardware marketed by computer manufacturers (e.g., Commodore for the Amiga 500/1000 series and IBM for the hideous failure called ‘PCjr’). Various SOTS boxes provided necessities such as memory, hard drive controllers, and conventional expansion slots.

tweeter: n.
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[University of Waterloo] Syn. perf, chad (sense 1). This term (like woofer) has been in use at Waterloo since 1972 but is elsewhere unknown. In audio jargon, the word refers to the treble speaker(s) on a hi-fi.

SOS: /S-O-S/
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n.,obs. An infamously losing text editor. Once, back in the 1960s, when a text editor was needed for the PDP-6, a hacker crufted together a quick-and-dirty `stopgap editor' to be used until a better one was written. Unfortunately, the old one was never really discarded when new ones came along. SOS is a descendant (`Son of Stopgap') of that editor, and many PDP-10 users gained the dubious pleasure of its acquaintance. Since then other programs similar in style to SOS have been written, notably the early font editor BILOS /bye'lohs/, the Brother-In-Law Of Stopgap (the alternate expansion `Bastard Issue, Loins of Stopgap' has been proposed).

1. /sos/ vt. To decrease; inverse of AOS, from the PDP-10 instruction set.

stiffy: n.
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3.5-inch floppies, so called because their jackets are more rigid than those of the 5.25-inch and the (now totally obsolete) 8-inch floppy. Elsewhere this might be called a firmy. For some odd reason, several sources have taken the trouble to inform us that this term is widespread in South Africa. Australians, on the other hand, suggest being careful with it when Down Under, as it is there universally slang for an erection.

short card: n.
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A half-length IBM XT expansion card or adapter that will fit in one of the two short slots located towards the right rear of a standard chassis (tucked behind the floppy disk drives). See also tall card.

Silver Book: n.
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Jensen and Wirth's infamous Pascal User Manual and Report, so called because of the silver cover of the widely distributed Springer-Verlag second edition of 1978 (ISBN 0-387-90144-2). See book titles, Pascal.

Devil Book: n.
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See daemon book, the term preferred by its authors.

crayola books: n.
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The rainbow series of National Computer Security Center (NCSC) computer security standards (see Orange Book), now obsolete and discontinued. Usage: humorous and/or disparaging.

4.2: /for' poynt too'/, n.
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[now obs.] Without a prefix, this almost invariably refers to BSD Unix release 4.2. Note that it is an indication of cluelessness to say “version 4.2”, and “release 4.2” is rare; the number stands on its own, or is used in the more explicit forms 4.2BSD or (less commonly) BSD 4.2. Similar remarks apply to “4.3”, “4.4” and to earlier, less-widespread releases 4.1 and 2.9.

AI koans: /A-I koh'anz/, pl.n.
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A series of pastiches of Zen teaching riddles created by Danny Hillis at the MIT AI Lab around various major figures of the Lab's culture (several are included under Some AI Koans in Appendix A). See also ha ha only serious, mu, and hacker humor.

Big Gray Wall: n.
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What faces a VMS user searching for documentation. A full VMS kit comes on a pallet, the documentation taking up around 15 feet of shelf space before the addition of layered products such as compilers, databases, multivendor networking, and programming tools. Recent (since VMS version 5) documentation comes with gray binders; under VMS version 4 the binders were orange (big orange wall), and under version 3 they were blue. See VMS. Often contracted to Gray Wall.

Blue Book: n.
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1. Informal name for one of the four standard references on the page-layout and graphics-control language PostScript (PostScript Language Tutorial and Cookbook, Adobe Systems, Addison-Wesley 1985, QA76.73.P67P68, ISBN 0-201-10179-3); the other three official guides are known as the Green Book, the Red Book, and the White Book (sense 2).

2. Informal name for one of the three standard references on Smalltalk: Smalltalk-80: The Language and its Implementation, David Robson, Addison-Wesley 1983, QA76.8.S635G64, ISBN 0-201-11371-63 (this book also has green and red siblings).

3. Any of the 1988 standards issued by the CCITT's ninth plenary assembly. These include, among other things, the X.400 email spec and the Group 1 through 4 fax standards. See also book titles.

Green Book: n.
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1. One of the four standard PostScript references: PostScript Language Program Design, bylined `Adobe Systems' (Addison-Wesley, 1988; QA76.73.P67P66 ISBN 0-201-14396-8); see also Red Book, Blue Book, and the White Book (sense 2).

2. Informal name for one of the three standard references on SmallTalk: Smalltalk-80: Bits of History, Words of Advice, by Glenn Krasner (Addison-Wesley, 1983; QA76.8.S635S58; ISBN 0-201-11669-3) (this, too, is associated with blue and red books).

3. The X/Open Compatibility Guide, which defines an international standard Unix environment that is a proper superset of POSIX/SVID; also includes descriptions of a standard utility toolkit, systems administration features, and the like. This grimoire is taken with particular seriousness in Europe. See Purple Book.

4. The IEEE 1003.1 POSIX Operating Systems Interface standard has been dubbed “The Ugly Green Book”.

5. Any of the 1992 standards issued by the CCITT's tenth plenary assembly. These include, among other things, the X.400 email standard and the Group 1 through 4 fax standards. See also book titles.

Red Book: n.
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1. Informal name for one of the four standard references on PostScript (PostScript Language Reference Manual, Adobe Systems (Addison-Wesley, 1985; QA76.73.P67P67; ISBN 0-201-10174-2, or the 1990 second edition ISBN 0-201-18127-4); the others are known as the Green Book, the Blue Book, and the White Book (sense 2).

2. Informal name for one of the 3 standard references on Smalltalk (Smalltalk-80: The Interactive Programming Environment by Adele Goldberg (Addison-Wesley, 1984; QA76.8.S635G638; ISBN 0-201-11372-4); this too is associated with blue and green books).

3. Any of the 1984 standards issued by the CCITT eighth plenary assembly. These include, among other things, the X.400 email spec and the Group 1 through 4 fax standards.

4. The new version of the Green Book (sense 4) — IEEE 1003.1-1990, a.k.a ISO 9945-1 — is (because of the color and the fact that it is printed on A4 paper) known in the USA as “the Ugly Red Book That Won't Fit On The Shelf” and in Europe as “the Ugly Red Book That's A Sensible Size”.

5. The NSA Trusted Network Interpretation companion to the Orange Book.

6. Nemeth, Snyder, Seebass, Hein; Unix System Administration Handbook, Second Edition (Prentice Hall PTR, New Jersey; 1995; QA76.76.063N45; ISBN 0-13-151051-7). See also book titles.

White Book: n.
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1. Syn. K&R.

2. Adobe's fourth book in the PostScript series, describing the previously-secret format of Type 1 fonts; Adobe Type 1 Font Format, version 1.1, (Addison-Wesley, 1990, ISBN 0-201-57044-0). See also Red Book, Green Book, Blue Book.

BQS: /B-Q-S/, adj.
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Syn. Berkeley Quality Software.

brochureware: n.
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Planned but non-existent product like vaporware, but with the added implication that marketing is actively selling and promoting it (they've printed brochures). Brochureware is often deployed as a strategic weapon; the idea is to con customers into not committing to an existing product of the competition's. It is a safe bet that when a brochureware product finally becomes real, it will be more expensive than and inferior to the alternatives that had been available for years.

desk check: n.,v.
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To grovel over hardcopy of source code, mentally simulating the control flow; a method of catching bugs. No longer common practice in this age of on-screen editing, fast compiles, and sophisticated debuggers — though some maintain stoutly that it ought to be. Compare eyeball search, vdiff, vgrep.

echo: n.
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A topic group on FidoNet's echomail system. Compare newsgroup.

fd leak: /F-D leek/, n.
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A kind of programming bug analogous to a core leak, in which a program fails to close file descriptors (fds) after file operations are completed, and thus eventually runs out of them. See leak.

g-file: n.
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[Commodore BBS culture] Any file that is written with the intention of being read by a human rather than a machine, such as the Jargon File, documentation, humor files, hacker lore, and technical materials.

This term survives from the nearly forgotten Commodore 64 underground and BBS community. In the early 80s, C-Net had emerged as the most popular C64 BBS software for systems which encouraged messaging (as opposed to file transfer). There were three main options for files: Program files (p-files), which served the same function as `doors' in today's systems, UD files (the user upload/download section), and g-files. Anything that was meant to be read was included in g-files.

gag: vi.
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Equivalent to choke, but connotes more disgust. “Hey, this is FORTRAN code. No wonder the C compiler gagged.” See also barf.

machinable: adj.
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Machine-readable. Having the softcopy nature.

lexiphage: /lek'si-fayj`/, n.
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A notorious word chomper on ITS. See bagbiter. This program would draw on a selected victim's bitmapped terminal the words “THE BAG” in ornate letters, followed by a pair of jaws biting pieces of it off.

line starve
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1. [MIT] vi. To feed paper through a printer the wrong way by one line (most printers can't do this). On a display terminal, to move the cursor up to the previous line of the screen. “To print `X squared', you just output `X', line starve, `2', line feed.” (The line starve causes the `2' to appear on the line above the `X', and the line feed gets back to the original line.)

2. n. A character (or character sequence) that causes a terminal to perform this action. ASCII 0011010, also called SUB or control-Z, was one common line-starve character in the days before microcomputers and the X3.64 terminal standard. Today, the term might be used for the ISO reverse line feed character 0x8D. Unlike line feed, line starve is not standard ASCII terminology. Even among hackers it is considered a bit silly.

3. [proposed] A sequence such as \c (used in System V echo, as well as troff) that suppresses a newline or other character(s) that would normally be emitted.

LPT: /L-P-T/, /lip'it/, /lip-it'/, n.
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1. Line printer (originally Line Printing Terminal). Rare under Unix, more common among hackers who grew up with ITS, MS-DOS, CP/M and other operating systems that were strongly influenced by early DEC conventions.

2. Local PorT. Used among MS-DOS/Windows programmers (and so expanded in the MS-DOS 5 manual). It seems likely this is a backronym.

PDL: /P-D-L/, /pid'l/, /[email protected]'l/, /puhd'l/
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1. n. `Program Design Language'. Any of a large class of formal and profoundly useless pseudo-languages in which management forces one to design programs. Too often, management expects PDL descriptions to be maintained in parallel with the code, imposing massive overhead to little or no benefit. See also flowchart.

2. v. To design using a program design language. “I've been pdling so long my eyes won't focus beyond 2 feet.

3. n. `Page Description Language'. Refers to any language which is used to control a graphics device, usually a laserprinter. The most common example is, of course, Adobe's PostScript language, but there are many others, such as Xerox InterPress, etc.

4. In ITS days, the preferred MITism for stack. See overflow pdl.

5. Dave Lebling, one of the co-authors of Zork; (his network address on the ITS machines was at one time [email protected]).

overflow pdl: n.
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[MIT] The place where you put things when your PDL is full. If you don't have one and too many things get pushed, you forget something. The overflow pdl for a person's memory might be a memo pad. This usage inspired the following doggerel:


Hey, diddle, diddle
The overflow pdl
   To get a little more stack;
If that's not enough
Then you lose it all,
   And have to pop all the way back.
                               --The Great Quux

The term `pdl' (see PDL) seems to be primarily an MITism; outside MIT this term is replaced by ‘overflow stack’ (but that wouldn't rhyme with `diddle').

pod: n.
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[allegedly from abbreviation POD for `Prince Of Darkness'] A Diablo 630 (or, latterly, any letter-quality impact printer). From the DEC-10 PODTYPE program used to feed formatted text to it. Not to be confused with P.O.D..