"floppy disk"--why "floppy"?
charles at FREUDE.COM
Thu May 10 14:45:02 UTC 2001
In the 1990's, many students at Oberlin College (in the town where I live)
referred to a 2 1/2' floppy disk encased in a hard cover as a "hard disk". I
talked to some of them about this usage (I hope in a non-put-downy way) and
discovered that many of them were unaware of the existence of the hard disks
inside pc's. (They did not know how computers stored data.) I have not heard
this recently, but then floppies seem to be passing out of use because so many
people have cd burners.
I didn't hear this usage at Case Western Reserve University, where I taught,
but then I taught mostly c.s. students.
> The following passage may be of interest--excerpted from "The
>Great Term Robbery," by Neville Holmes, _Computer_, May 2001, p.96,
>continued on pp.94-95 (sic: page order); p.96:
> 'The computing industry has also suffered from marketing
>hyperbole--christening data diskettes "floppy disks" provides but one
>example. Clothes flop,dough flops, dot-coms flop, but diskettes
>don't. Even the earliest versions, which lacked rigid covers, merely
>flexed. So why call them floppies?
> 'To better distribute microprogram code, IBM developed the
>diskette drive in the late 1960s. In the 1970s, when this storage
>medium became widely used, marketers must have found the sober name
>"diskette" too bland, and so coined "floppy" to jazz it up.
> 'Why not "flexy"? Well, by the 1970s marketers within the
>computer industry had drained all meaning from the word "flexible" by
>dubbing *everything* flexible: programs, computers, controllers,
>tape drives, card readers, printers, application programs, suppliers,
>even customers. Marketers routinely suffer from such naming
>exuberance. In the 1980s "user friendly" dominated; in the 1990s
>"intelligent" took pride of place; and in the 200s, "e-" appears to
>lead the pack.'
> So when the contributions of marketers to the English lexicon are
>compiled, "floppy disk" should evidently be included.
> And just for reference, the end of the article identifies the
>author: "Neville Holmes is an honorary research associate and a
>lecturer under contract at the University of Tasmania's School of
Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, Case Western Reserve University
Affiliate Scholar, Oberlin College
Send all mail to:
105 South Cedar St., Oberlin, Ohio 44074, USA.
email: charles at freude.com.
home phone: 440 774 1926.
professional website: http://www.cwru.edu/artsci/math/wells/home.html
personal website: http://www.oberlin.net/~cwells/index.html
NE Ohio Sacred Harp website: http://www.oberlin.net/~cwells/sh.htm
More information about the Ads-l