Re: Results in Parallel columns

From: David Cressey <>
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2006 12:19:47 GMT
Message-ID: <Dlxkg.2$NZ6.0_at_trndny07>

"-CELKO-" <> wrote in message
> >> PS: Kludges! Now I see why we need glue! <<
> I have to post this:
> Kludge or kluge:
> n. Slang
> 1) A system, especially a computer system, that is constituted of
> poorly matched elements or of elements originally intended for other
> applications.
> 2) The use of undocumented, unintended, accidental or non-standard
> features which appear in the software or hardware to solve an immediate
> problem in a computer system.
> 3) A clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem.
> Sources:
> >From the old Scottish word "kludgie" meaning an outside toilet; A
> Scottish engineering term for anything added in an ad hoc manner; the
> spelling "kludge" adapted by American engineers in World War II.
> "How to Design a Kludge", Jackson Granholme, Datamation, February 1962,
> pp. 30-31], which defined it as "An ill-assorted collection of poorly
> matching parts, forming a distressing whole."
> It was beautiful, complex and wrong. In 150AD, Ptolemy of Alexandria
> published his theory of epicycles--the idea that the moon, the sun and
> the planets moved in circles which were moving in circles which were
> moving in circles around the Earth. This theory explained the motion of
> celestial objects to an astonishing degree of precision. It was,
> however, what computer programmers call a kludge: a dirty, inelegant
> solution. Some 1,500 years later, Johannes Kepler, a German astronomer,
> replaced the whole complex edifice with three simple laws. -- The
> Economist
> foobar n.
> [very common] Another widely used metasyntactic variable; see foo for
> etymology. Probably originally propagated through DEC system manuals by
> Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1960s and early 1970s; confirmed
> sightings there go back to 1972. Hackers do not generally use this to
> mean FUBAR in either the slang or jargon sense. See also Fred Foobar.
> In RFC1639, FOOBAR was made an abbreviation for "FTP Operation Over Big
> Address Records", but this was an obvious backronym. It has been
> plausibly suggested that foobar spread among early computer engineers
> partly because of FUBAR and partly because foo bar parses in
> electronics techspeak as an inverted foo signal; if a digital signal is
> coded so that a positive voltage or high current condition represents a
> 1, then a horizontal bar is commonly placed over the signal label.

I recall seeing "foo" and "foo bar" in a humorous back-formation to "not foo" as early as 1962, on the second floor of building 26 at MIT. If one were to trace the etymology further back, I would suggest looking into the "Tech Model Railroad Club". TMRC had a lot of influence on early DEC engineers, especially by way of Alan Kotok.

I speculate that "FUBAR" at some point became "foo bar", and then "foo". By the time I first heard it, none of us, to my knowledge, had ever hear "FUBAR". Received on Fri Jun 16 2006 - 14:19:47 CEST

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