# Etymology of the word 'firmware'

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#### astronomerroyal

##### New Member
Is it called firmware because it falls between hard- and software, or is it so-named because only the firm (synonym for company, business) needs to concern itself with it?

#### Mike - K8LH

##### Well-Known Member
You seem to have way too much time on your hands (grin)...

The first one.

#### Papabravo

##### Well-Known Member
Is it called firmware because it falls between hard- and software, or is it so-named because only the firm (synonym for company, business) needs to concern itself with it?
Circa 1971 we used the term for software placed in a Read Only Memory (ROM) chip. Thus giving it an "aspect" of traditional hardware in that once the ROM chip was manufactured by a traditional masking process, the contents could not be altered. BTW the cost for a 512 bytes by 8 bits ROM was about $3000 mask charge and$25 each with a 6 week lead time. You can bet those were a nervous 6 weeks for the programmers.

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#### Mike - K8LH

##### Well-Known Member
Oh my, "the dark ages" (grin). Much easier for me getting started in '79 and the early 80's. I've still got a little ultraviolet "eraser" on the shelf here which I used on 2716, 2732, and 2764 EEPROM's...

When I authored the earliest version of the current "TV Guide Channel" software, called the United Video "Electronic Program Guide" back then, the program was burned into 2716 EEPROM's and installed as "firmware" in the 19" rack panel Character Generator hardware. I think we did 3 version upgrades during the first year and this simply involved sending out a set of new EEPROM's to the Cable company clients. Their staff would go the the "head end", open up the Character Generator box, pull the old EEPROM's and install the new ones. This wasn't a "big deal" because it took us nearly a year to reach the 1,000,000 subscriber level.

Mike

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#### astronomerroyal

##### New Member
Many thanks. I can now sleep peacefully. All I can say is that the olde tymes sounded - how can I put this politely? - hideous.

Michigan's well represented here, I'm in Ann Arbor. Good day.

#### Mike - K8LH

##### Well-Known Member
Yes, compared to the capabilities we have today, like local area networks, the Internet, VPN, etc., things were rather crude.

United Video uploaded 24 hours of TV listing data for each Character Generator via the WGN satellite uplink in Chicago. The data was encoded onto one of the horizontal scan lines in the vertical sync' interval. But we had about 30 cable companies that couldn't get the WGN signal so we had to install little Hayes modems on those Character Generators and I built a box that called these Char' Generators up each night and we sent them their 24 hours of TV listing data that way.

Mike

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#### 3v0

##### Coop Build Coordinator
Forum Supporter
I am suprised the term mushware was not mentioned. The software in a device that is easily changed but not RAM is not all that firm. It is mush.

It seems its use has fallen off.

#### Russ Hensel

##### New Member
And for a 2 cent prize what is wetware ( most common in sifi )

#### Mike - K8LH

##### Well-Known Member
Does it have anything to do with wet t-shirts (grin)?

#### Papabravo

##### Well-Known Member
Wetware sounds like human computers with liquid biologicals flowing through them. Wetwork is the term used by the aluminum suitcase crowd to portend the elimination of wetware; sometimes with extreme predjudice.

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#### Sceadwian

##### Banned
Wetware is a typical term for cyborg implants.

#### Triode

##### Active Member
the program was burned into 2716 EEPROM's
wow, the memory must have been tiny per chip. How did you fit that many of them in the enclosure?

#### Sceadwian

##### Banned
Where's my two cents Russ? I demand acknowledgment. (end of line)

#### futz

##### Active Member
And for a 2 cent prize what is wetware ( most common in sifi )
The Wikipedia definition seems pretty good. I've been an avid science fiction reader/collector since I was a kid (in the early 70's somewhere), and I first saw the term used (I think) in the mid-80's sometime, but maybe earlier (foggy memory).

And no, Star Trek is NOT science fiction. It's moronic formula TV with a bit of flash.

TV is the mind killer!

#### Russ Hensel

##### New Member
Where's my two cents Russ? I demand acknowledgment. (end of line)

I have it right here. Drop over any time. Or for a 2 cent fee ( included with prize ) I will email it to you.

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