Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Fri Jan 21 20:51:42 UTC 2011

From: "Brian Hitchcock" <brianhi at SKECHERS.COM>

> UNIVAC did not refer to vacuum tubes. It was an acronym for "Universal
> Automatic Computer". Thus a "multivac" would be a multiversal automatic
> computer?

Well, yeah, I was pretty much wrong on this one re. Univac.  Shame, as it
was rather a nice piece of folk-etymology.  Don't you just hate the Reality
Principle sometimes?

OTOH, given that when Asimov coined Multivac, computers were still ladies
dressed in valves (or am I wrong on this too?), isn't it possible that there
was a secondary phonaesthetic connotation around his coinage?  Thus a
primary reference (back) to Versal Automatic Computer(s), with a secondary
loading on the multiplicity of valves possessed by such a godlike machine?

Perhaps, as Brian suggests, this is the case of an intrusion from some other
Verse.  Transversal Semantic Contamination?


> "univac." The American HeritageR Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition.
> Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. 21 Jan. 2011.
> <>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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