Thursday, June 08, 2006

Computers Are Confusing--LOL!

We apologize to any of our readers who were unable to enjoy the full potentiality of the site for the last several days. Apparently our gracious host is having some technical difficulties with their API server, which stands for Application Programming Interface.

This brings up quite an interesting subject—just what do all these crazy computer acronyms stand for? Who thinks up these things? We at Very Little Known Facts are happy to clue you in on these webhead "secrets."

A Bit of History

Contrary to popular belief, the history of the internet goes back all the way to UNIVAC, the world’s first personal computer invented to decode Nazi messages. UNIVAC stands for Universal Non-Integrated Vacuum Actuated Computer. It was Winston Churchill who first said, "Someday everyone will have a telephone in their pocket and a computer in their teacup." How right he was! In those days, of course, anyone with a phone line could access UNIVAC—all they had to do was hard-wire a MODEM (which stands for Modular Operator-Dialed Electronic Modem) to their telco data interface system, or TELDIS, and soon they would hear the “handshake” protocol. This infamous series of whistles and noise blasts startled and terrified early computer novices who thought their computers were “haunted.” Even modern DSL (which stands for Digital Security Line) and cable MODEMs still make this horrifying noise!

A Web Across the Width of the World

The first BLOG (which stands for Binary Language Operator Guide) was also the first website, created by a young intern at IBM (International Business Management) named William Jefferson Gates. Young “Bill” was tired of his mother constantly reading his diary, so he decided to start keeping it on his work SERVER (Stand-alone Emulating Reverse Engineered Regulator). When Mr. Gates left to form his own company, MICROSOFT (not an acronym), he needed some way to access his diary remotely. Thus the World Wide Website was born, along with the ubiquitous WWW acronym.

From Decoding To Undecoding

As the web grew exponentially, not only Bill Gates but also other people found that typing DOS (Disk Operating System) information on their computer was not only dangerous but also insecure. They needed some way to make it secret—something like a code! Thus the first programming code BASIC (which is short for Beginning All-purpose Secure Internet Code) was born. Eventually the name BASIC was shortened to C for convenience. Later, for marketing purposes, C+ and the even more plussed C++ were released. These were followed by other languages like PERL (Programmer Entered Resource Language), JAVA (a synonym for coffee) and UNIX (Uninterruptible Non-Integrated Experiment). UNIX was developed solely for ‘command line’ programmers who were too set in their ways to utilize the more powerful GUI (Great User Interface) languages like WINDOWS, which stands for World Integrated Non-DOS Web System, or WYSIWYG for short.

IBM vs. Apple

Complaining that the high cost of the UNIVAC personal computer (PC for short) made searching the Internet for pornography expensive, two California engineers invented a new kind of computer in their garage. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak took the CPU (Computer Programming Unit) circuit board and all the electronics from an IBM computer and put it in a new, fancy case. Thus was born the first Apple computer, the MAC! MAC of course stands for Mod Artistic Computer. Ironically, the two found that they could charge twice as much for a MAC because of its “designer” look. In the end, though, much like the Betamax VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) the MAC was relegated to a niche market because of its price and obsolescence.


Although computers have come a long way from their beginnings as behemoth machines that only worked in outer space due to their size and heat output, we still have much to learn from them. Computer engineers tell us that we have forgotten what over half of computer acronyms actually stand for—and that’s a Very Little Known Fact!


Jason Hartley said...

I had no idea that's what modem stood for. Thank you, VLKF!

OMG said...

What does :-) stand for?

Jon Black and Britt Bergman said...

omg, Thanks so much for your comment. For a long time :-) confused me as well, but I contacted a fancy computer programmer who told me the follwing:
: stands for colon
- stand for a hyphen
) is a bracket that editors that use wordperfect utilize sometimes. Thanks again!

Tracie said...

Britt, remember Brenda Benner? One of my other contract jobs back when we were both telecommuting for that highbrow consumer reporting site,, was to write technical copy that deciphered acronyms like ASIC. (I learned long ago that it means Application-Specific Integrated Circuit!) I was always jacking around the Webopedia. But if I were doing that job now, I would be thanking my lucky stars for your blog on computer acronyms. What a time-saver!

Anonymous said...

Ouch... where ya get your facts
modem = modulate demodulate
Windows is not an acronym
wysiwig stands for what you see is what you get. so many other errors... jeese

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