pr0n (1994) gamerpr0n pr0n* - words constructed from letters, numbers, and other characters

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Thu Mar 18 12:55:04 UTC 2010

I like Garson's hypothesis of calculator spelling being the origin of
l33tspeak, having engaged in it myself as a kid in the 70s and 80s
with early calculators with those displays where the characters were
made out of 7 lines arranged as two squares on top of each other. We
used to enjoy punching in 7334 - turn upside down and it was "hell."
Giggles would ensue. Make it 07334 and it became the innocuous
"hello" and you could pretend the thing was talking to you. I *think*
there were some early calculator "tricks," if you would, where you
were given numbers and functions to put in and the product, when
turned upside down, would spell out a word.

But I don't use 1337speak. I never got into either bulletin boards
nor the early text games (like the original Zelda?), so I think those
were also key in the development of 1337speak.

I am old enough to remember guys in the campus computer lab printing
out nudie pictures on dot-matrix printers: the pictures were composed
of all the various keyboard symbols. Ah, programming.

---Amy West

>Date:    Wed, 17 Mar 2010 19:33:08 -0400
>From:    Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
>Subject: Re: pr0n (1994) gamerpr0n pr0n* - words constructed from letters,
>          numbers, and other characters
>Victor Steinbok wrote
>>  How do they treat w00t and n00b, d00d?
>The usual rationale offered for the construction of the term pr0n is
>the avoidance of filters and searches. This is plausible, but terms
>like w00t, n00b, and d00d were presumably not created to circumvent
>filters or hide from searches.
>Calculator spelling of the 1970s substituted upside-down numbers for
>letters. For example, 3 becomes an E. I think this influenced Leet
>(1337) Speak on bulletin boards in the 1980s, and B1FF slang on
>Usenet. The term pr0n is rooted in this evolving slang. The Dictionary
>of Computing connects it to B1FF slang.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list