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In October 1953, I coined the word 'software' (1995) (niquette.com)
66 points by rabidrat 15 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 32 comments

I had this moment recently....

What’s between hardware and software?


Hard - Firm - Soft

Maybe I never saw it since I am not a native English speaker. But better late than never


Heavy Metal - Metal - HardRock - Soft Rock

"Heavy metal" is not harder than "metal". "Heavy metal" has two meanings. The original meaning is hard rock with a special emphasis on distorted guitars and strong rhythms. "Metal" is an abbreviation of "heavy metal" in this sense.

But now "heavy metal" has an additional meaning: the traditional 1970s/1980s style of heavy metal, e.g. Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest. "Heavy metal" in this sense is a sub-genre of "heavy metal" in the previous sense.

Most fans of "heavy metal" in the first sense abbreviate it to "metal", and use "heavy metal" specifically for the older style. With these meanings, "metal" includes extreme metal styles, e.g. death/black metal, so it's on average harder than "heavy metal".

That's an interesting piece of info. Thanks for sharing!

I thought the firm in firmware referred to the firm that had put the software onto the hardware that made the hardware work, so firmware is a type of software without which the computing hardware won't do anything at all, and non-firmware software is some software you buy or otherwise acquire and put on your device to enable it to extra things.

Pass the joint over and that's shareware.

You got to follow the protocol


Give a small trial bag with powder and that's trialware.

Can somebody explain this word juggling for a non-native speaker? Wikipedia in my mother tongue explains "firm" coming from "solid/tight/strong" (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firmware).

If you take a fresh tomato, it will be firm - kind of hard, but it doesn't take much force to give up.

If you freeze the tomato, it will be hard.

If you wait for a few days, it will become soft.

Another example is a handshake. A soft handshake is what you shouldn't do (like handshaking a fish), a hard handshake you shouldn't do either (because it will hurt the other person), the best handshake is a firm (or solid) handshake.

"Firm" describes a mattress. Sleeping on the ground is hard. Sleeping on a pillow is soft. Sleeping on a mattress is firm.

"Hard" is the "hardest" of materials.

"Firm" is not quite hard, but not soft either.

"Soft" is not hard at all.

A good analogy would be cooking steak;

- Hard = well done - Firm = medium - Soft = rare

Edit: explaining this was harder than I initially thought...

That's funny, we have similar words to firm ("jędrny"/"sprężysty"/"elastyczny"), but they aren't on the soft-hard scale, they are independent property.

I wouldn't guess that firm is between hard and soft in English.

Woah, I never realised we don't actually have a good word for "firm" in Polish :)

jędrny is close - works for food and for body parts

NANS, my explanation is that solid describes the aggregate state, and that firm is just an attribute within the solid state, basically a generalization of a mixture of sub-attributes (density/distance and cohesion)

Tight refers to density, strong to cohesion. So something within that range that's very dense and cohesive is hard, and something that isn't is soft.

It’s a well established term. Coined in 1967 according to Wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firmware

Thanks for pointing this out. As a non-native speaker I always thought "firm" in firmware was referring to "company".

Firmware is usually used for something that's software like, but lower level.

For example, the designs we build usually involve electronics, an FPGA, and a 'normal' processor. It's not formal terminology, but we usually refer to them as hardware (electronics), firmware (FPGA code) and software (C/Python/etc code).

I have always viewed hard, firm, and soft as a description of the ware's malleability. Hardware is not easily changed or updateable, if at all. Firmware is typically code deployed to stay in hardware like an EEPROM, flash, or FPGA, where it can be changed but not necessarily dynamically or easily. Software is able to be easily molded and changed.

I also like

Byte - Nibble - Bit

I also never saw this "hard firm soft" connection. Thanks!

Heavy Metal - Metal - HardRock - Soft Rock - Rock Astley

This quote from Niquette's web site, "proving" that English has about 38,000 words, does not impress me:

> I took down from my shelf The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, which is not the OED but one I happen to like a whole lot. Now, there are 1,491 pages with definitions on them. I did a quick count of the words defined on a couple of randomly selected pages and got an estimate of 25.5 words. You can do the indicated arithmetic, of course, but I'll save you the trouble: 1,491 times 25.5 equals 38,020 words.

Did he claim it was a proof, or an order-of-magnitude estimate — in the same category as the job-interview question "how many gas stations are there in the United States?"

I use hard/soft naming for persistent/transient (disk/RAM) data in my database, I find that analogy works there too.

We have hardware, firmware, software, wetware, what other *wares are there?

Sub-types of software: shareware, trialware, freeware, payware, bloatware





What about 'hardware'?

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