14.0057 first use of "software"

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Wed Jun 07 2000 - 20:26:12 CUT

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                    Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 57.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: Einat Amitay <einat@ics.mq.edu.au> (40)
             Subject: Re: 14.0055 first use of "software"?

       [2] From: Stephen Miller <s.miller@socsci.gla.ac.uk> (16)
             Subject: Re: 14.0055 first use of "software"?

       [3] From: Arun-Kumar Tripathi <tripathi@statistik.uni- (26)
             Subject: Re: 14.0055 first use of "software"?

             Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2000 21:22:35 +0100
             From: Einat Amitay <einat@ics.mq.edu.au>
             Subject: Re: 14.0055 first use of "software"?

    I tried to go the conventional way and look things up on the web. This is
    what I

    > The question arose as to who coined
    > the word "software." Just two weeks ago, a piece was published in Science
    > attributing the term to John Tukey, the Princeton statistician who you may
    > have run into in your P'ton days. John is enormously smart and altogether
    > capable of having the idea but the date attached -- 1958 -- intuitively
    > seems much too late to me.

    This is what I found about coining terms and John Tukey. This is the only term
    that I found to be associated with him (citing from

    "...The word "bit" apparently first appeared in print in the Claude E.
    Shannon paper "The Mathematical Theory of Communication" originally
    published in the July and October, 1948, issues of Bell System Technical
    Journal and published in a book of that same name cited in Chapter 18.
    Shannon credits John Tukey with inventing the word. A discussion of the
    etymology of the word "bit" can be found in: "Origin of the Term Bit,"
    Annals of the History of Computing, Volume 6, Number 2, April 1984, pages
    152-155. Not everyone agrees that "bit" is a wonderful abbreviation for
    "binary digit." On page 146 of: Hogben, Lancelot. The Vocabulary of
    Science. New York, NY: Stein and Day, 1970. we read "The introduction by
    Tukey of bits for binary digits has nothing but irresponsible vulgarity to
    commend it."

    > I had thought the term was first used by Grace Hopper in 1954
    > (from her early work on compilers).

    >From what I found Hopper is associated with the term "Bug" (although the
    use of
    this term can be traced back to Shakespeare's time):

    In all the history and chronology sites the first mentioning of the term
    "software" begins around 1960. I don't know if this means anything - but
    this is all I found.

    Anyway - it's always nice to look for answers on the web...


    Einat Amitay

    --[2]------------------------------------------------------------------ Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2000 21:23:18 +0100 From: Stephen Miller <s.miller@socsci.gla.ac.uk> Subject: Re: 14.0055 first use of "software"?

    <snip> > >Anyone have any ideas? > >/rich >


    OED gives the first attribution as 1960 from the CACM but it is evident from the quote that the term is in widespread use in comuter circles.

    Stephen Miller --------------------------------------------------------- Stephen Miller Faculty Office Faculty of Social Sciences University of Glasgow Glasgow G12 8RT 0141 339 8855 extn 0223 http://www.gla.ac.uk/faculties/socialsciences/

    --[3]------------------------------------------------------------------ Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2000 21:24:39 +0100 From: Arun-Kumar Tripathi <tripathi@statistik.uni-dortmund.de> Subject: Re: 14.0055 first use of "software"?

    Greetings Dr. Richard Giordano and humanist scholars,

    An interesting story :)

    Actually, John W. Tukey is a pioneer in Exploratory Data Analysis. He received his PhD in 1939 for a dissertation on "Denumerability in Topology" which was later published in 1940 as "Convergence and Uniformity in Topology". And, after this accomplishment, in 1965 he with J.W. Cooley published a paper in "Mathematics of Computation", in which he introduced the important fast FOURIER transfer algorithm. His works on the Philosophy of Statistics is much known.

    And, on the contrary, Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, was a remarkable woman who has taken the challenges of programming the first computers. She was the leader in the field of "Software Development". So, IMHO, the questions regarding coinage of the word, "Software" goes to Lady Grace Hopper..[for more details, please see the below Refs.]

    References:- ------------ Grace Murray Hopper [complete story with her Programming the First Computers <http://www.cs.yale.edu/homes/tap/Files/hopper-story.html>

    John Wilder Tukey [complete history] <http://www-groups.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Tukey.html>

    Math Makes Points: John W. Tukey <http://forum.swarthmore.edu/mam/00/612/people/tukey/>

    Thanks once again to Dr. Richard Giordano for raising an interesting scientific queries..I would like to hear from other scholars!

    Sincerely Arun Tripathi

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