[Ads-l] Antedatings of BTW (1981)

Hugo hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jul 2 19:21:55 UTC 2016

The OED has BTW (by the way) dated to 1997 [with a parenthetical 1979].

Here's some antedatings from 1981 or earlier.

First with straightforward datings:


1981 June 14, harpo!ber, “Lion's Book”, in fa.unix-wizards, Usenet[1],
retrieved 2 July 2016, message-ID <anews.Aharpo.261>:

Last I heard, the books could not be copied in any part nor seen by
non-licensees. BTW - Irma Biren has been promoted (she deserved it)
and the new contact would be Francine Glick.

[1] https://groups.google.com/forum/#!original/fa.unix-wizards/12jUlN8kCP0/GS6dKFdNB30J


1989 May 8, Vince Perriello (Editor in Chief), “Volume 6, Number 19”,
in FidoNews[2], archived from the original on 18 January 2005:

BTW - By The Way

[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20050118194512/http://www.textfiles.com/fidonet-on-the-internet/878889/fido0619.txt


Finally, a likely earlier one appears in the undated Jargon File (aka
Hacker's Dictionary) version 1.0.4 (possibly from around Jan 1981):

COM MODE (variant: COMM MODE) [from the ITS feature for linking two or
   more terminals together so that text typed on any is echoed on all,
   providing a means of conversation among hackers] n. The state a
   terminal is in when linked to another in this way.  Com mode has a
   special set of jargon words, used to save typing, which are not
   used orally:
        BCNU    Be seeing you.
        BTW     By the way...
        OBTW    Oh, by the way...


The earliest version found of the Jargon File is 1.0.3 and also undated.


An extract of the Jargon File (although not containing BTW) was
published in New Scientist on 12 March 1981 ("How to frobnicate",
Stewart Brand):

File Name: AIWORD. That is, the "Artificial Intelligent (AI) Jargon
File", as genenrated by the computer pilots--"hackers"--at the AI labs
of Stanford University, Massachusetts Instiute of Technology, and
elsewhere. ... The update I have of the File is dated 6 January, 1981,
already decaying.

That extract is closest to 1.0.4, so perhaps 1.0.4 is from sometime
around 6 January 1981.

A copy of 1.0.5 had been posted to net.misc on 26 Feb 1982, and 1.1.0
had been recovered from a Fall 1981 tape archive.

Version 1.1.3 contains:
The last edit (of this line, anyway) was by Don Woods on 81-07-22.
Version 1.1.5 contains:
The last edit (of this line, anyway) was by Phil Agre, 6/26/82.



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