What wilt thou name thy computer, knave?

The personification of inanimate computenmachines is a folly dating back to the earliest days of vacuum tubes and punch cards. Remember UniVAC and ENIAC? Acronyms, true... but pronounceable names nonetheless.

Why is this? As human beings, we have an innate compulsion to call something by its name, and as indistinct as computers tend to be (more so now than ever before), naming a box that crunches zeroes and ones is perfectly natural and exceedingly useful. But there is much more to this practice than simple practicality.

The names we give our computers tend to be a very personal thing. Even if the particular computer is not something that we use daily or even consider terribly important, its name is almost always a mark that has some meaning to us, even if only in some small way. And why not? All the computers we use in our lives have the need to be distinguished from each other in the same way that the people in our lives do.

Computer nomenclature is often a source of some amusement, but in business settings generally tends to reflect the machine's primary user. In the case of server farms, the creative aspect of naming becomes rather binary: all computers are named with some numerical component (very uncreative) or with some abstract naming convention that may or may not bear any relationship to the other servers in the cluster.


Of course, there are many different protocols that "naming" one's computer might apply to. The most important and pervasive one would undoubtably be DNS, but WINS or NetBIOS/NetBEUI, IPX and AppleTalk are also common. While each protocol has it's own device naming rules, most intelligent sysops tend to unify these with some consistency.

You have most likely given your computer a name, because you were forced to or asked to when you first set it up, and most likely it was something that had meaning for you personally. Considering your choice, ask yourself this question:

Do androids dream of electric sheep?