[SIGCIS-Members] Jim Cortada's "Inside IBM"

Ceruzzi, Paul CeruzziP at si.edu
Tue Feb 20 12:10:12 PST 2024

I finally had a chance to look at the summary of Jim's book from CBI, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I always found IBM's control over nomenclature noteworthy: "Electronic Data Processing," not "Computer"; "Diskette" not "floppy"; "pointing Device" not "mouse." And others. I remember being shocked – shocked! when IBM called its OS2 operating system "Warp." So out of place, but the world, and IBM, moved on.

Now we see the proliferation of what I consider inappropriate names for software and services that have a serious place in society: Google, Twitch, Slack, Yahoo! When Tom Haigh & I were writing our Third Edition, we had a discussion about whether to include the exclamation point in Yahoo. We left it off. And when I suggested to my office mates at the Smithsonian that we adopt Slack, they thought I was joking. I'm glad we didn't adopt it, regardless of how useful it isd or isn't.  Could you imagine President Eisenhower issuing a Tweet? (General Eisenhower once said, in response to a RAND Corporation report, "There will be no software in this man's army!"

Where did it all begin? Maybe from a programmer named Tom Pittman, author of Tiny Basic. He called his service "Itty Bitty Computers." This was around 1976 or so. Anyone have better information?

Paul Ceruzzi
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