The Origins Of Computer Names You Would Never Have Imagined

Why do we say “I’m going to rip a CD” or a bug is called “bug”? We use many curious words in computer science, and some of them have unexpected origins.

Let’s take a look at the origin of computer names you would never have imagined.

Computer science has been with us for just 80 years. When IT was born, it was a completely new world and there were no words to call things.

Who invented them? Why do we use terms like “mouse” or “spam” with a meaning very different from the original word?

We will discover the origin of computer names that you would never have imagined.

When computer science was born, at the beginning of the 20th century, it was only available to some privileged people. The first computer scientists were academics, researchers, military and university professors.

They did not shine for their originality when it came to putting names to things, so the first technicalities of computer science were very boring.

A program is called that because it is a list of tasks written in advance (scheduled), and a programming language is called because, well, it serves to communicate with the computer. A computer is a machine that orders data, all very logical, but also very obvious and boring.

Even worse are acronyms, which also abound in computer science. A PC is a Personal Computer and a LAN is a Local Area Network or Local Network. The RAM is Random Access Memory or Random Access Memory. And so we could continue until we fall asleep.

Luckily, computer science reached street people in the 70s of the last century, with the birth of home computers. Users began to give them new uses that their creators had not even imagined, and much more original and fun words were invented.

The varied origins of computer science

  1. Anglicisms
  2. Curious acronyms
  3. A matter of fashion
  4. Centuries old
  5. Funny words

Now, it is time to take a look at the origin of computer names you would never have imagined.


A very important source of computer names we use  comes from anglicisms, that is, the direct adoption of English words. It occurs in all areas, not only in computer science, and it has been accentuated since the Internet exists.

Let’s see some of the most curious.


Rip a CD or other data container is to extract its contents for use elsewhere. Its most common use is to extract the songs from a CD to convert them to a digital format, such as MP3. It is also used with a DVD to extract the film and convert to MP4 format, for example.


Contrary to what many people believe, it does not come from the word RIP (rest in peace), related to extracting all the contents of a CD or DVD and thus loses its usefulness (dies, or we leave it alone). It comes from the verb rip, or ripping, which means tearing, or tearing apart, in the sense that the resistance of that CD or DVD is broken and torn to extract its contents, and thus convert it to another format.


We say that someone or something has been banned, when he has been expelled, or is prevented from entering. For example, ban someone from a forum, or ban a video on YouTube.

It comes from the English verb to ban, which is used for the same. It is a very old word whose origin is in the Germanic expression bannen, which means to banish or expel. In the fourteenth century it was already used as a synonym for prohibiting.


This word is the same one used in English, it has not been adapted.

A meme is an idea, concept or joke that is expressed visually (with an image or video) and is intended to go viral, that is, spread quickly through forums and social networks.

The word was invented by scientist and zoologist Richard Dawkins for his book The Egoist Gene, published in 1976. It explains that just as genes transmit physical characteristics from one individual to another, there are cultural genes, which convey the same ideas and concepts between individuals He called the meme a minimum amount of information transmitted through these cultural genes.

Meme Father’s Day

This concept of transmitting pop culture quickly and immediately was transferred to the Internet, and thus the memes we all know were born.

Curious acronyms

In the introduction of the article we have mentioned some boring acronyms (most). But there are also many more original and popular, from the Internet in general, and social networks in particular. Let’s see them!


This acronym for the English expression What the Fuck? It has a quite rude literal translation, but it is also used in softer ways like What the hell? o What noses? It is basically used as a vulgar way to express frustration or surprise.


Another word very repeated in social networks is LOL or LoL, which comes from the English expression Laughing Out Loud. And we can translate this without blushing. It means laughing out loud.


This word has a direct translation, but requires an explanation.

It comes from Google is Your Friend, which means Google is your friend. An increasingly debatable phrase today, but that specifically means that when you need information, use the Google search ….


It is one of the most curious expressions used in social networks, because it is not a word in itself. XOXO is used in English as a farewell signature to express kisses and hugs, but nobody is very clear where it comes from.

Computer Names

Some say that the X represents a person opening the arms, and the O, to the lips in a circle to kiss. Others, that the X are two mouths kissing and the O, two people hugging. A third opinion stream ensures that they actually represent sounds, since the X sounds very similar to kiss (Kiss) in English, and the O to Hugh (hug).

The reality is that we are, possibly, before the first emoticon in history, because there are eighteenth-century letters where XXXXX means many kisses, and Winston Churchill himself used it in letters to his mother, in 1894.

A matter of fashion

Sometimes the names of computer science are created by mixing words, concepts, or even physical objects and devices that are fashionable at that time.


The podcasts were created around the year 2000, when developer Dave Winer added a specification to the RSS format (used to notify news updates) with which a multimedia file could be included to these notifications.

Adam Curry

In 2004, MTV presenter Adam Curry created a program called iPodder with which you could read RSS notifications, download audio files to iTunes, and play them on your iPod. The basic structure of the podcast was born.

The word podcasting (create or make a podcast) comes from putting together iPod and broadcasting. It was coined in 2004 by the English journalist Ben Hammersley, when he wrote an article in The Guardian explaining how to create your own online radio on the Internet.

As we see, in 2004 the iPod music player was fashionable, and its name was used to reflect the possibility of playing audio content on a portable device. The iPhone and smartphones were not yet born.


A troll or troll is a person who annoys others in social networks or forums, for fun or boredom. Not to be confused with haters, who are people who hate something or someone specific, and spend the day attacking it.

Until a few years ago a troll was a little known word in Spain, but it became popular thanks to the films of The Lord of the Rings and video games and epic fantasy books.

A troll is a monster with a bad mood that attacks everyone who gets ahead. It comes from Norse legends and Scandinavian folklore, and appears in oral and written stories thousands of years old.


Many have tried to invent an acronym for Spam, the advertising mail sent to millions of users in an unsolicited way. Some say that it means Stupid Pointless Annoying Messages, or Stupid Messages meaningless. Others, Sending and Posting Advertisement in Mass or Send Mass Advertising.

But the most credible story is that it states that a famous chat group in the 80s became obsessed with a sketch of the comic group Monthy Python, where they continually repeated the word Spam (canned meat). So they started calling Spam the repetitive phrases that were used in the chats. Later, when the mass advertising shipments arrived on the Internet, they were awarded this word, for its repetitive and annoying character.

Centuries old

There are names of computer science that have been used for centuries, even millennia. The majority come from Latin, which is a language whose roots share much of the European languages, including English, the cradle of computer science. Although there are also words that come from Japanese, Russian, and other non-Latin languages.


One of the most obvious examples of words with an ancient origin is the computer or computer. In English it is computer, which comes from Latin, because it derives from the word putare, which means thinking. So a computer is a machine that thinks. But in reality its complete origin is Com-putare, another Latin word that means to calculate. Therefore, a computer is a machine for calculations.

Computer technicalities

The word Compute has been in the English language since at least the seventeenth century, and the Romans also used it more than a thousand years ago. Computer was a person who does many calculations, and already appears in a Scottish newspaper of the year 1731, according to the BBC.

It was quickly associated with computers, and was already used in the 30s of the last century.


Similar to the computer, the word hacker goes back centuries in time. In the thirteenth century the verb hack was used to denote the action of cutting something sharply, or hitting it roughly. It was also used as a synonym for ingenious tricks.

In 1955 MIT used the verb hack to describe the action of accessing an electrical system. In the 70s the word hacker was used to describe people trying to penetrate computer systems to perform malicious actions.

As we can see its origin was negative, and so it has remained for decades, often used as a synonym for cybercriminal. Now there is a greater knowledge of the hacker world, and there are many respected and admired ethical hackers.

Funny words

We also have colloquial words that became popular because they were fresh, original and fun. Sometimes they have no relation to what they define, or they are simple jokes and puns, but they were imposed on others that seemed more appropriate.

People called these Matamarcian games (a literal description), and so it was used for years to describe shoot’em up or ship and shooting games.

Another mythical game, Pac-Man (1980), here was baptized with the nickname of the comecocos, because there were gamers who were hooked and obsessed with him. It became so popular that many (profane) people used it to call any video game, and even a console. There were parents who told their children “stop playing the comecocos” when he was actually playing with the NES console …

Nowadays most people know English, or their use is used, and the names of the games are no longer translated.


Although it is not a computer term, it was born on the Internet. And unlike the rest, it is a word born in Spain. More specifically, on the Exceptics mailing list, created by Xoan Carreira.

Magufo is the fusion of two words: magician and UFO (a UFO, alluding to aliens). A magufo is a person who defends pseudosciences, and everything that is not scientifically proven: astrologers, ufologists, card casters, fortune tellers, terraplanists, climate change deniers, homeopathy, etc.


Unlike the gullible, who believe in pseudosciences, a magufo does not have to believe them, but defends them or uses them to his advantage, sometimes to get the money from the gullible.


Why are computer errors called bugs? Although it was already used to define a fault in a phonograph, the same Tomas Alva Edison in the nineteenth century, tells the legend that began to be used in computer science thanks to a programmer called Grace Hopper.

While working on a Mark II computer in 1957, he had to turn it off because a moth had been introduced inside. He commented to his colleagues that he is debugging the system (in English bug means bug or insect) and since then both the term bug is used to describe a computer failure, and debug to fix it.

We have reviewed the origin of computer names that you would never have imagined. Surely more than one meaning has surprised you!

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button