There's an interesting post in the Bits blog of The New York Times entitled, "Did Bill Gates Really Say That?" It describes Fred Shapiro's quest to chase down the origins of computer-related sayings such as:
- "640K ought to be enough for anybody." [Attributed to Bill Gates; sitting here with 4 GB of memory in my PC, that estimate missed the mark.]
- "Do not fold, mutilate, or spindle." [I remember it as "Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate," as many commenters did.]
- "Garbage in, garbage out." [Mr. Shapiro tracks it down to 1959; twenty years later it was in full swing, as GIGO was drilled into me in my programming course at John Hancock.]
- "Information wants to be free."
- "I think there is a world market for about five computers." [Said during the days when computers cost millions of dollars and took up entire rooms.]
- "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home." [Attributed to Ken Olsen of DEC. Again, another miss, at least in the Creese household, where the current census is three laptops, one desktop PC, and three PDAs.]
- "That's not a bug, it's a feature." [I was a product manager for nine years, and found this phrase very useful, especially near ship date.]
- "To err is human. To really foul up--it takes a computer."
The comments on the post are more interesting than the post itself. Some commenters go the geek route, giving mini-tutorials on memory assignments in the early IBM PC. Others do the historian thing, recalling conversations with Ken Olsen and retired IBM engineers. It's amazing how much knowledge is still out there about computing's early days--we just need to write it down.
An enjoyable read if you were into computers before the Internet arrived.