The Joys of Tech Product Codenames

Good piece in today’s LA Times on the joys of coming up with codenames for technology products. I don’t mind sitting in on codename discussions, but I try desperately to avoid anything to do with real product names. Those meetings are generally full of MBAs and interminable.

Anyway, as you might expect, this piece recycles the wonderfully bizarre “BHA” episode involving Carl Sagan and Apple:

In 1993, Apple managers who were unsure whether the Power MacIntosh 7100 would ever make it to market named it Sagan, after the popular but speculative astronomer Carl Sagan. When the human Sagan got wind of the mock tribute, he asked Apple to drop the name.

So Apple renamed the machine BHA, which Sagan correctly surmised was short for Butt-Head Astronomer.

Sagan sued for libel and lost.

But after Apple attorneys settled other aspects of the case, the engineers promptly changed the code name a final time — to LAW, short for Lawyers Are Wimps.


  1. The article reminded me of this joke I had once seen shown below:
    CIA – Computer Industry Acronyms
    CD-ROM: Consumer Device, Rendered Obsolete in Months
    PCMCIA: People Can’t Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms
    ISDN: It Still Does Nothing
    SCSI: System Can’t See It
    MIPS: Meaningless Indication of Processor Speed
    DOS: Defunct Operating System
    WINDOWS: Will Install Needless Data On Whole System
    OS/2: Obsolete Soon, Too
    PnP: Plug and Pray
    APPLE: Arrogance Produces Profit-Losing Entity
    IBM: I Blame Microsoft
    DEC: Do Expect Cuts
    MICROSOFT: Most Intelligent Customers Realize Our Software Only Fools Teenagers
    CA: Constant Acquisitions
    COBOL: Completely Obsolete Business Oriented Language
    LISP: Lots of Insipid and Stupid Parentheses
    MACINTOSH: Most Applications Crash; If Not, The Operating System Hangs
    AAAAA: American Association Against Acronym Abuse.
    WYSIWYMGIYRRLAAGW: What You See Is What You Might Get If You’re Really Really Lucky And All Goes Well.