"chad"--a possible origin
gcohen at UMR.EDU
Sun Nov 19 17:57:35 UTC 2000
I have been looking over Barry Popik's recent ads-l information on
"chad" and FWIW have been speculating on its origin:
(1) Barry's first attestation (aside from OED2) comes from June 1960, and
the context of all his attestations is automatic data processing. (I do not
have OED2 handy; Barry gives 1959 as its first cite of "chad.")
(2) We therefore deal with the context of "tech-speak"and the etymology
must therefore be sought in this context.
(3) With a search for a precedent in, say, Middle English, therefore
almost certainly unfruitful, the question is: Where in the world could
young technically oriented people have turned to for inspiration that would
result in a word whose origin is not readily transparent?
(4) The only likely answer that occurred to me is: an an acronym or partial
But what words could plausibly form the acronym?
(5) When I took a second look at Barry's information, two points stood
out: (a) the specific mention of "automatic data" in the 1960 publication
"Glossary of Terms Used In Automatic Data Processing." This might (and I
emphasize "might") be reflected in the "-ad" part of "chad."
(b) The second is the mention of a chad as a "chip" in the following
>1972--IBM DATA PROCESSING GLOSSARY. Pg. 20, col. 2:
>_chad._ The piece of material removed when forming a hole or notch in a
>storage medium such as punched tape or punched cards. Synonymous with chip.
(6) So my tentatively advanced, speculative etymology of "chad" is
an acronym of CHip of Automatic Data.
gcohen at umr.edu
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