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Mice, Bugs and Firewalls!

12 Mar

Have you ever wondered about the origin of some of the technical terms we use on a daily basis? If you have, then keep on reading. The funniest thing about using those terms is how disconnected they are from their actual, original meaning. We don’t even think twice about it. And, of course, there are those which are completely new, which doesn’t make them any less interesting.

It’s next to impossible to compile the ultimate list of those which are the most interesting, so we haven’t bothered. Instead, we have just singled out a few which most of us use each day.


In real life, a firewall is a wall made to stop the fire from spreading. Its digital counterpart does pretty much the same thing: it stops viruses, worms and malware from spreading throughout your operating system and doing some serious damage.                                          firewall_bugs_more


Although the term hacker has a negative connotation, and is used to describe a person who uses their knowledge of computers for malicious purposes, that wasn’t the case at the very beginning, as the term was used for someone who uses their talents to experiment with software.

Even today, members of the hacking community emphasize that their work is positive, and use the term “crackers” for those who use their computer expertise to do harm.


Meme is used to describe something that spreads on the internet, achieving massive popularity and inspiring a number of imitations. The first mention of the word “meme” was used in the book called The Selfish Gene, written by scientist Richard Dawkins, who discussed the phenomena of cultural imitation. He settled on the Greek word “mimeme”, which means “imitated thing”. He used a shorter version, to make it rhyme with gene. But, “meme” also means “same” in French. Richard Dawkins himself approves the use of the term.


The origins of this one are not quite clear. Douglas Engelbart, its inventor, says that even he can’t remember how the name stuck. The mouse was first introduced in 1968, and has been called a mouse ever since. One of the engineers working on the project at the time, Roger Bates, shed some light on the matter, saying that the cursor used to bear the name “CAT”, so it was only fitting to name the new device a “mouse”.


A bug was named after an actual bug. You see, back in the day when computers used to take up an entire warehouse, bugs would often fly into the machine, causing problems, much like their modern virtual counterparts.


Every computer is based on a binary system, where information is stored using ones and zeros. Those zeros and ones are called bits. “Bit” is the shortened version of the words “binary digits”.

If you have a favorite term, let me know.