Don't do that then!
= D =
dongle /dong'gl/ n.
1. [now obs.] A security or
copy protection device for proprietary software consisting of
a serialized EPROM and some drivers in a D-25 connector shell,
which must be connected to an I/O port of the computer while the
program is run. Programs that use a dongle query the port at
startup and at programmed intervals thereafter, and terminate if it
does not respond with the dongle's programmed validation code.
Thus, users can make as many copies of the program as they want but
must pay for each dongle. The idea was clever, but it was
initially a failure, as users disliked tying up a serial port this
way. By 1993, dongles would typically pass data through the port
and monitor for magic codes (and combinations of status lines)
with minimal if any interference with devices further down the line
-- this innovation was necessary to allow daisy-chained dongles
for multiple pieces of software. These devices have become rare as
the industry has moved away from copy-protection schemes in
general. 2. By extension, any physical electronic key or
transferable ID required for a program to function. Common
variations on this theme have used parallel or even joystick ports.
See dongle-disk. 3. An adaptor cable mating a special
edge-type connector on a PCMCIA or on-board Ethernet card to a
standard RJ45 Ethernet jack. This usage seems to have surfaced in
1999 and is now dominant. Laptop owners curse these things because
they're notoriously easy to lose and the vendors commonly charge
extortionate prices for replacements.
[Note: in early 1992, advertising copy from Rainbow Technologies (a
manufacturer of dongles) included a claim that the word derived
from "Don Gall", allegedly the inventor of the device. The
company's receptionist will cheerfully tell you that the story is a
myth invented for the ad copy. Nevertheless, I expect it to haunt
my life as a lexicographer for at least the next ten years. :-(
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.