November 2008

John Brandon “FWIW — The origins of ‘Net shorthand” (Computerworld, Nov. 7, 2008)

Ben Zimmer, an executive producer at the Visual Thesaurus and a former editor at the American Oxford Dictionary, said that BRB is one of the few terms still in wide use today that was listed on the Jargon File, circa 1990.

It states the abbreviation was reported as being used in proprietary commercial networks such as GEnie (General Electric Network for Information Exchange) and CompuServe, which began in 1985 and 1979, respectively, before the World Wide Web became popular.

But wait, he also notes that textfiles.com shows the term in a May 1989 “FidoNews” newsletter.

And he points to even earlier usage by Apple developers on a Jan. 3, 1989, Apple II Development Forum Conference Log on textfiles.com. So it’s safe to assume it was used as early as 1988. …

Zimmer notes that the first usage of LOL appeared on the aforementioned “FidoNews” newsletter in 1989.

Read the rest here.