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How are programmers joking?

Programmers are fun people. They joke, like everyone else, over a glass of tea, coffee and other similar situations. They write documentation and insert a comic example in the program text. They create programs and give them strange names. Russian people are sometimes incomprehensible. We’ll talk about them.

You can start with the main term “software”. In English – “software” (soft). It means software, although it is literally impossible to translate it into Russian. Actually, this term appeared in the second half of the 20th century as a play on words as opposed to “hard” (hardware). This word from the 16th century in English means “iron”. But only that of a hardware or weapons store.

But hard-n-soft are not the most interesting examples. A whole series of developments is associated with a strange, if not morbid, humor of programmers.

The medicine

In the USA in the Massachusetts main hospital in the 60s a very peculiar system was created. Its name is an abbreviation, “far-fetched.” And they pulled her to the word “mumps”. We look in the dictionary and read: mumps (such a disease), in extreme cases – the spleen. Hospital – he is the hospital.

In the next place you can place another language of remarkable structure – Lisp. We don’t translate it. But in vain! Again, look at the dictionary: lisp! Although this is again a reduction, everything is fair. But what slowdown problems tormented its creators?

Another language. The first mass database management system (DBMS). It is called dBase, at first glance the usual abbreviation of the words “database” (data base). But it reads “debase” (debase). Vocabulary at hand: to degrade, devalue, degrade. And again it “smacks of” medicine, although in a completely different direction. He also has close relatives: Clipper and Recital.

And again, databases: SQL, a language for querying relational (table) databases. “Normal” abbreviation, quite sane and strict. But the “experts” of this language call him “sequel”, which means continuation, consequence. And with this “secret” name, true connoisseurs distinguish each other from ignoramuses. But what did they mean? What are the implications?

DBMS Again: FoxBASE. Again the tables. Literally means: the base of the fox. What base we already guess – data. But which fox rummaged there? The answer is simple. Fox is the name of the developer company. Fox’s swallowed MicroSoft. And FoxPro came out – fox pro.


So we got to the leaders. And again the database: Access, which is part of the well-known office suite of applications. A completely meaningful word for the British and Americans. It means “access”. And it’s clear why – to the database. But the system itself is a pseudo-relational database. And that’s the point. By and large, besides access to tables, the system does not provide anything. She has difficulties with relational logic. In general, not very funny.

The name of the text editor from the same package is also symbolic: Word. Figuratively and logically. Most likely, it is a simple abbreviation for word-processor (text editor).

And again the tables from the same package: Excel. A familiar word. But let’s look into the dictionary. And here it somehow becomes uncomfortable. The word means transcend. But in fact, it’s okay, no swagger and boasting. Pure tradition. Excel’s ideological predecessor was SuperCalc (Super Calculator). Excel excels it. These were the modest spreadsheet manufacturers.

And now let’s recall what the name of the operating system of this office is: Windows (windows). This is also very symbolic, since the authors of the system really “cut” the windows into the graphical interface (although not the first ones). For some reason, they fly on screensavers. So windows hovering on MicroSoft flags are more a symbol than a term.

There are a lot of strange symbolic names in the production of “software”. The previously mentioned Fox (foxes). Most likely this fox should be cunning. The same word in the obsolete meaning – knowledgeable, skillful. And there is even such a software product Cunning Fox. It works under Apple operating systems.

Apple is not as famous in Russia as it is in America. But this is one of the strangest symbols of the American IT sector. The word simply means “apple.” But this apple on the famous emblem is all colorful and … bitten. This is the strangest thing. But the United States is a religious country, and the Old Testament is highly respected there. And a quote from the Bible doesn’t look strange for any popular science publication. And then it becomes clear where the authors drove. A bitten apple is a temptation. And I want to taste it, like that same forbidden fruit. Although at first it was Newton. And everything was inspired by the happy memories of Steve Jobs about working on an apple farm.

Further more. Another iron maker is Sun. It’s just that the Sun, large and warm, illuminates our path to the mysterious realm of information technology.

This corporation introduced the world another symbol – the Java language (Fr. Java in Indonesia). It is believed that the word was chosen for its rarity.

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