= I =
Once upon a time, the computer company most
hackers loved to hate; today, the one they are most puzzled to find
From hackerdom's beginnings in the mid-1960s to the early 1990s,
IBM was regarded with active loathing. Common expansions of the
corporate name included: Inferior But Marketable; It's Better
Manually; Insidious Black Magic; It's Been Malfunctioning;
Incontinent Bowel Movement; and a near-infinite number of even
less complimentary expansions (see also fear and loathing).
What galled hackers about most IBM machines above the PC level
wasn't so much that they were underpowered and overpriced (though
that counted against them), but that the designs were incredibly
archaic, crufty, and elephantine ... and you couldn't
fix them -- source code was locked up tight, and
programming tools were expensive, hard to find, and bletcherous to
use once you had found them.
We didn't know how good we had it back then. In the 1990s,
Microsoft became more noxious and omnipresent than IBM had ever
been. Then, in the 1980s IBM had its own troubles with Microsoft
and lost its strategic way, receding from the hacker community's
In the late 1990s IBM re-invented itself as a services company,
began to release open-source software through its AlphaWorks group,
and began shipping Linux systems and building ties to the
Linux community. To the astonishment of all parties, IBM emerged
as a staunch friend of the hacker community and open source
This lexicon includes a number of entries attributed to `IBM';
these derive from some rampantly unofficial jargon lists circulated
within IBM's formerly beleaguered hacker underground.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.