Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 21 19:48:16 UTC 2011

The Language Log post about the word dongle includes the January 1982
citation from the OED (given below). There is an earlier cite in the
online OED from New Scientist dated October 1, 1981 (given below).
There is another instance in the monthly magazine Byte in October 1981
that I have located using GB (given below; verified with scans).

The wording used in the Byte article would have been opaque to anyone
who was unfamiliar with dongles I think. Although Byte was based in
the United States the setting of the article was the UK, and the
author was a UK journalist. So the two earliest cites in 1981 are from
the UK.

1981    New Scientist 1 Oct. 24/3   Many programs written for the Pet
computer make use of a device known as a dongle. The dongle is an
extra piece of memory that is plugged into the computer, without which
the program refuses to run.

1982    MicroComputer Printout Jan. 19/2   The word 'dongle' has been
appearing in many articles with reference to security systems for
computer software [refers to alleged coinage in 1980].

Cite: 1981 October, Byte magazine, Software Protection in the United
Kingdom by Martin Hayman, Start Page 126, Quote Page 132, McGraw-Hill,
New York. (Verified)

<Begin excerpt>
The case of Microchess shows how severely amateur copying can damage
software sales. Before the International PET Users' Group published a
method of copying Microchess, the game program had sold more than
100000 copies. After publication of the copy method, sales dried up.
By contrast, the semi-professional program Wordcraft enjoyed a
dramatic increase in sales when the protection routine known as the
"Dongle" was incorporated.
<End excerpt>

On Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 12:14 PM, Ben Zimmer
<bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: dongle
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> More from Mark Liberman:
> On Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 9:15 AM, Darla Wells <lethe9 at> wrote:
>> A new one for me, from Wikipedia
>> A *software protection dongle* is a small piece of
>> hardware<>that connects
>> to a
>> laptop <>,
>> desktop<>or
>> server <>computer.
>> The term "dongle" was originally used to refer only to
>> software-protection dongles; however, currently "dongle" is often used to
>> refer to any small piece of hardware that plugs into a computer. This
>> article is limited in scope to dongles used for the purpose of copy
>> protection <> or authentication
>> of software <> to be used on that
>> system.[1]<>
>> Ah, the things one learns as a computer tech.
>> Darla
> --
> Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list