Jun 17 2011

John Wilder Tukey

Category: People,SoftwareTeknovis @ 4:30 pm

Recently I read a fascinating story about the origin of the bit and software:

Tukey is also credited in the “Annals of the History of Computers” as the person who, in 1946, coined the word “bit”, a contraction of “binary digit”, the term describing the 1s and 0s that are the basis of computer programs. Tukey suggested the shorter “bit” to computer experts at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he was a researcher. “Bit” was easier on the tongue than the other possibilities they were considering, such as “binit” and “bigit”, so it stuck. Twelve years later, Tukey came up with the word “software” to describe the programs on which electronic calculators ran, first using it in a 1958 article he wrote for American Mathematical Monthly.

The source of this is Patent Law for Computer Scientists by Closa, D., Gardiner, A., Giemsa, F., Machek, J.

For more information see John Wilder Tukey.