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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
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jargon, abuse /loo'zr/ A user; especially one who is also
a loser. (luser and loser are pronounced identically.)
This word was coined around 1975 at MIT.
Under ITS, when you first walked up to a terminal at MIT and
typed Control-Z to get the computer's attention, it printed
out some status information, including how many people were
already using the computer; it might print "14 users", for
example. Someone thought it would be a great joke to patch
the system to print "14 losers" instead. There ensued a great
controversy, as some of the users didn't particularly want to
be called losers to their faces every time they used the
computer. For a while several hackers struggled covertly,
each changing the message behind the back of the others; any
time you logged into the computer it was even money whether it
would say "users" or "losers". Finally, someone tried the
compromise "lusers", and it stuck.