"software" coinage

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Tue Jun 12 17:33:37 UTC 2001

I would say his much more important contribution to the lexicon of
the language is his own name's embellishment of the lovely-labelled
post-hoc tests one may run after ANOVAs - Tukey, Sheffé, Bonferroni.
At first, Fisher would seem to be the odd man out, but, luckily, it's
Fisher's LSD (a sure cure for too much statistical work).


>Has anyone investigated the origins of "software"? Probably lots. But I have
>come across two contradictory claims:
>Professor who coined the term 'software' dies
>  July 28, 2000 Web posted at: 1:16 PM EDT (1716 GMT)
>  NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (AP) -- John W. Tukey, a Princeton University
>statistician credited with coining the word "software," died here Wednesday.
>He was 85. . . .
>   But his most widely recognized contribution is his introduction of the term
>"software" to describe the programs used to run early computers. It first
>appeared in a 1958 article he wrote in the journal American Mathematical
>Monthly. . . .
>(By Paul Niquette)
>. . .
>As described elsewhere, the hardware used in my high school projects with
>symbolic logic was limited to relay technology programmed by patch panel. It
>was a discrete-value analog computer. {Part 1} Until 1953, like most people
>at that time, I had never seen a stored-program digital computer -- a von
>Neumann Machine. Then, while in my junior year at UCLA, I was actually paid
>to program the SWAC. {Part 1}
>It was in October of that year, that I coined the word "software" more or
>less as a prank. I never expected the term to be taken seriously. . . . (much
>- Allan Metcalf

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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