= X =
xyzzy /X-Y-Z-Z-Y/, /X-Y-ziz'ee/, /ziz'ee/, or /ik-ziz'ee/
[from the ADVENT game] The canonical `magic
word'. This comes from ADVENT, in which the idea is to
explore an underground cave with many rooms and to collect the
treasures you find there. If you type `xyzzy' at the appropriate
time, you can move instantly between two otherwise distant points.
If, therefore, you encounter some bit of magic, you might
remark on this quite succinctly by saying simply "Xyzzy!"
"Ordinarily you can't look at someone else's screen if he has
protected it, but if you type quadruple-bucky-clear the system will
let you do it anyway." "Xyzzy!" It's traditional for xyzzy
to be an Easter egg in games with text interfaces.
Xyzzy has actually been implemented as an undocumented no-op
command on several OSes; in Data General's AOS/VS, for example, it
would typically respond "Nothing happens", just as ADVENT
did if the magic was invoked at the wrong spot or before a player
had performed the action that enabled the word. In more recent
32-bit versions, by the way, AOS/VS responds "Twice as much
Early versions of the popular `minesweeper' game under Microsoft
Windows had a cheat mode triggered by the command
`xyzzy<enter><right-shift>' that turns the top-left pixel of the
screen different colors depending on whether or not the cursor is
over a bomb. This feature temporarily diasappeared in Windows 98,
but reappeared in Windows 2000.
The following passage from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by
L. Frank Baum, suggesting a possible pre-ADVENT origin, has
recently come to light:
"Ziz-zy, zuz-zy, zik!" said Dorothy, who was now standing on both
feet. This ended the saying of the charm, and they heard a great
chattering and flapping of wings, as the band of Winged Monkeys
flew up to them.
The text can be viewed at Project Gutenberg.
Another possible pre-ADVENT origin is discussed at
the XYZZY page.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.