Contents page

Index (83KB)


luser: /loo'zr/ n. A user; esp. 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.  Later one
   of the ITS machines supported `luser' as a request-for-help
   command.  ITS died the death in mid-1990, except as a museum piece;
   the usage lives on, however, and the term `luser' is often seen
   in program comments.