Does not compute

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Sat Sep 15 16:52:38 UTC 2001

On Sat, Sep 15, 2001 at 10:58:16AM -0400, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
> The odd 'ergative' declaration "[Expression X] does not compute" (spoken by
> a computer) must have appeared in some old "Star Trek" program or some old
> science-fiction movie, I guess. I suppose it means roughly "[Expression X]
> cannot be parsed" or "[Expression X] is invalid". It is now used like "...
> doesn't make sense" or so, I think.
> Is there any information on the origin of this clumsy declaration?

The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang says that
it was introduced as a catchphrase by the television show _My Living
Doll_ in 1964.

Jesse Sheidlower

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