Mouse, Spam and Cookies: Origins and Backstories of Everyday Tech Terms We Use

April 29, 2014 8:35 pm

Who knew that a rodent, a canned food variety and a snack mean so much more than their intended purpose on earth?


Where the term mouse came from is something that we may never ever know. Even its inventor, Douglas Engelbart, never called the mouse a mouse, he said in a 1968 conference in San Francisco.
The only reason why it is called a mouse is its resemblance to the common household rodent. It’s a round device with a wire connecting it to the computer. However, hardware designer Roger Bates said that he remembers the cursor on the computer being called a CAT. Hence, the cat chasing the mouse made somehow perfect sense.


Aside from being a breakfast staple, Spam also refers to the amount of junk mail you receive in your inbox. The origin of Spam in tech lingo is attributed to the Monty Python’s classic Spam sketch.
In one of the show’s episodes, it featured a diner that served Spam in all of its dishes. The characters then kept on shouting the word Spam countless times. Soon, the term Spam was widely used in Internet chat rooms simply to pertain to something repetitive and annoying at the same time.


Yummy, sweet and addicting – that’s how cookies are in the real world. But tech-wise, cookies refer to the small piece of info that is stored when you visit a website. The story where the term came from is unique, and all credits go to Lou Montulli, the inventor of the web cookie.


It is based from the term ‘magic cookie’ which he heard during one of his college classes. He liked the term cookies and it was the first thing that came up in his mind. The term stuck up until today.


It is funny and interesting at the same time how these words have taken up more meaning most especially in the tech world where everybody speaks the same language. One would expect terms that are hard to enunciate (after all, it’s technical), but it’s not how it is today. Thank heavens.
Image credit: Mouse  

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