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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
bucky bits
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/buh'kee bits/ 1. Obsolete. The bits produced by the CONTROL
and META shift keys on a SAIL keyboard (octal 200 and 400
respectively), resulting in a 9-bit keyboard character set.
The MIT AI TV (Knight) keyboards extended this with TOP and
separate left and right CONTROL and META keys, resulting in a
12-bit character set; later, LISP Machines added such keys as
SUPER, HYPER, and GREEK (see space-cadet keyboard).
2. By extension, bits associated with "extra" shift keys on
any keyboard, e.g. the ALT on an IBM PC or command and option
keys on a Macintosh.
It has long been rumored that "bucky bits" were named after
Buckminster Fuller during a period when he was consulting at
Stanford. Actually, bucky bits were invented by Niklaus Wirth
when *he* was at Stanford in 1964--65; he first suggested the
idea of an EDIT key to set the 8th bit of an otherwise 7 bit
ASCII character. It seems that, unknown to Wirth, certain
Stanford hackers had privately nicknamed him "Bucky" after a
prominent portion of his dental anatomy, and this nickname
transferred to the bit. Bucky-bit commands were used in a
number of editors written at Stanford, including most notably