SHOUTING; emphasis?

Michael Quinion TheEditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Tue Sep 10 08:00:58 UTC 2002

> My memory of DARPA-net e-mail was that it was almost exclusively
> in uppercase.  ( Even the main- frame I used in the early eighties
> was all uppercase.) Most micro-computers were incapable of "full
> ASCII." I believe that many politically correct "netiquette"
> usages were promulgated by quite politically incorrect techies who
> used them to lord it over those whose tech was somewhat less
> advanced. [ It was considered fun to berate some poor liberal arts
> flunky, who could only use uppercase, that he/she was being rude !
> ]

Thanks for that confirmation. I knew for sure that all-uc was still
around in the eighties, but I had in mind micros like the early
Apples, which also only had uppercase keyboards. Your suggestion as
to the origin of the opposition to all-uc messages is intriguing.
While it may have had an influence in the transitional period in the
eighties, by the time that full-featured keyboards were universal in
the early nineties it should have died away. But we see, if anything,
an increase in opposition to all-uc messages. This suggests that
another mechanism is at work - general dislike of all-uc texts for
psychological reasons.

> That said, I apologize for upsetting the tender sensibilities of
> neophytes -- I'm a cripple and find it difficult to use the shift
> key. Sometimes I forget or just get lazy.

Your message was a spark that ignited an oddly intense exchange. It
would have been better if it had led to firm conclusions either way
about the relative ease of comprehension of upper- and lower-case
messages, but that subject is, after all, rather off-topic for this

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: <TheEditor at>
Web: <>

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