semantics (was Article on old software programs (for IBM, Apple, Borland, etc))

From: Richard Erlacher <>
Date: Wed Aug 18 13:56:28 1999

Just to add grist for the mill, I'd point out that people now are, perhaps
erroneously, calling recorded program material for your stereo and your TV
'software' as well. Now, I would call a CD or a CDROM firmware, since you
can't really change it, but who's splitting hairs . . .

Years ago, people predicted that it would become increasingly difficult to
distinguish hardware from software, though I doubt that. After all, if you
can see it or touch it, it's hardware, right?

Now we have software for building hardware. Not just the HDL's of various
sorts, but one can actually realize a series of 'C' statements via VHDL or
Verilog, among others, I'm sure, in a hardware (?) implementation.

If we call the content of ROM and PROM devices firmware, it's reasonable to
call the content of PAL and CPLD devices firmware as well, isn't it?

What about the content of those volatile FPGA devices? They're not like
PROMs, in that they forget what they learned last time power was on. They
can be changed pretty readily. Some are even capable of running (yecchh!)
self-modifying code <shudder> internally.

What do we call all this "stuff" now?

-----Original Message-----
From: John Ruschmeyer <>
To: Discussion re-collecting of classic computers
Date: Wednesday, August 18, 1999 12:34 PM
Subject: Re: Article on old software programs (for IBM, Apple, Borland, etc)

>> > Bill, would you not call this an example of a hardware program?
>> "Software" implies "program". "Software" by itself is sufficient.
>> "Computer program" to differentiate from say "television program"
>> I can accept because "program" by itself is ambiguous. I can accept
>> "hardware program" as well, although I would say "programmed in
>> If you said that that computer had "hardware software" I would have
>> to kill you ;-)
>I'm not sure you can really say that "computer program" is any less
>ambiguous than "television program", at least when taken with no
>For example, Bill asks his friend, "Have you seen the new computer
>Is he referring to:
> a. Front Page 2000 (a software application)
> b. "The Computer Chronicles" (a television program about
> computers)
> c. A new political initiative aimed at puttimg more computers
> in schools.
>Gotta love English...
Received on Wed Aug 18 1999 - 13:56:28 BST

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