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The story behind "Foo" and "Bar"..

Monu Tripathi
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Joined: Oct 12, 2008
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    1

Most of the demo, example code, that I have come across in my study of computer programming, have chosen "foo" and "bar" as names for their programs, code blocks etc. Recently, i came to know that this was derived from the military(slang) term "FUBAR" which means "effed up beyond repair"!

Why quote/cite/give an effed up program as an example anyways?!!!

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Pat Farrell
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The use of foo and baz as example names goes back to MIT, and at least into the 1960s.

Most of the time, its foo and baz, sometimes foo and bar. Yes, it comes from the World War 2 phrase of fubar. Other words from that era are mumble and fratz. The latter two are used when you need three or four example words.

Everyone in that era used the terms. They were heavily part of the MIT, U-Mass, and Route 128 culture, which begat both the Honeywell Multics and the Digital PDP-10, Tops-10 and tops-20 systems. It was a Harvard PDP-10 that Bill Gates used to do most of his early microcomputer cross compilation.

There are lots more in the Jargon dictionary. Try to find one from the mid-1970s or earlier, as later versions had more Unix and later PC buzzwords, which corrupted the language.
Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
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  68
See foo and foobar in the Jargon file.
Pat Farrell
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Ulf Dittmer wrote:See foo and foobar in the Jargon file.


Your links are to a much newer version of the Jargon file. I don't see a date in it, but it feels late 80s.

"This glossary file is being maintained at two main locations. It is
AIWORD.RF[UP,DOC] at SAIL, and GLS;JARGON > at MIT. " is vintage 81, but it goes back at least into the early 70s.


Ulf Dittmer
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Pat,
believe it or not, but I wasn't trying to please you by posting the links, but instead trying to address the original question. I think those entries are highly relevant for that. If you think some other resource is even more relevant, by all means, point us to it.
Pat Farrell
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Ulf Dittmer wrote:believe it or not, but I wasn't trying to please you by posting the links, but instead trying to address the original question. I think those entries are highly relevant for that. If you think some other resource is even more relevant, by all means, point us to it.


I followed your links, and their answers do not match my understanding of the terms when Tenex and Multics were in active use. There are hundreds of versions of the Jargon file, and even a book published containing a one-time version. I don't have anything that dates back into this, but I was part of the community in the early 70s around Route 128.

Back then, Route 128 was the home of computers and high tech, it moved to Silicon Valley when DEC, DG, Wang, and others were replaced by HP, Sun, Silicon Graphics, etc.
Pat Farrell
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1981 version of the Jargon File
Bert Bates
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Joined: Oct 14, 2002
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If you ever have the good fortune to work with the computer book publisher O'Reilly, you can call yourself a "friend of O'Reilly", i.e. a "foo". Sometimes, when you visit the O'Reilly campus, when the workday is done, they will pass around a few beers from the...

you guessed it...

foo bar


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Pat Farrell
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Bert Bates wrote:a few beers from the... guessed it...foo bar


Clearly there a few old school hackers there. Neat.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
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Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24187
    
  34

Pat Farrell wrote:1981 version of the Jargon File


Sweet, thanks. ESR really, really ruined this.


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Sandra Bachan
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Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 434
Really neat information!


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