A-B, v.

Landau, James James.Landau at NGC.COM
Fri Feb 10 14:02:55 UTC 2006

 In the spring of 1982, when I was in charge of computers in a Pentagon
office, we installed an "A-B switch" to allow two computer systems to
share the same RS-232 line to a modem.

I have in front of me a page from a catalog from the Black Box company
of Pittsburgh PA showing the prices of some 40 different models of "ABC
switches" and "ABCDE switches".  Unfortunately there is no date on the
page, but it is probably not earlier than 1981 since it refers to
"parallel printer connectors" which did not become popular until the IBM
PC came out in 1981.

          - James A. Landau

-----Original Message-----
From: Benjamin Zimmer [mailto:bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU]
Sent: Thursday, February 09, 2006 3:25 AM
Subject: A-B, v.

* A-B, v. 'compare (one audio source against another, as with an A-B

I noticed this used twice in articles accompanying the latest Village
Voice Pazz & Jop Critic's Poll...

Anyone who wrote that Sleater-Kinney have only now learned how to
"really" rock never A/B'd the disc against One Beat or Dig Me Out and/or
can't distinguish band interaction from mic placement.
Yet when I A-B'd it up against Kanye, I found Late Registration not only
deeper but just as much fun.

I see this on Usenet back to 1989:

rec.music.misc, May 22, 1989
I just got out my LP pressing and AB'd it against the CD, and the CD has
noticeably more hiss, dirtier transients, and a rather smeared image.

Audiophiles have used the less elliptical term "A-B test" since the
early '70s at least, both as a noun and verb:

* A-B test, n.

1972 _Washington Post_ 5 Nov. 13/4 The best way to judge a
loudspeaker..is to listen carefully to one and then to another
(so-called "A-B test") playing the same material and powered by the same
amplifier in the same room.
[HNP Doc ID 99708395]

* A-B test, v.

1974 _Washington Post_ 22 Sep. (Book World) 4/4 Indeed, A-B tested
against a representative sampling of more conventional-type speakers now
on the U.S. market, the MFB system more than held its own.
[HNP Doc ID 120947333]

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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