When it Comes to Naming, Engineers Have No Lack of Creativity

I got the idea for this story while visiting the home of a friend recently. They had a small dog that liked to run in circles. As a result, it was named Google for the spinning arrow that pops up during the annoying buffering. Incidentally it’s easy to speed up downloads one thousand times faster however there isn’t dollar one available to fund a hardware idea these days among the software startups doing incremental changes that everyone else is already doing.

Back to naming. Engineers have a lot of opportunities to name things. When the various power converter topologies were invented, a series of names evolved. Some were spot on. Others still mystify me to this day. For example, the buck regulator. Whereas the boost regulator steps up the voltage, a buck regulator steps it down. I still don’t get why they named it a buck regulator. Perhaps it’s in regards to “buck” the system however the converter doesn’t really go against something, it reduces voltage. Maybe it was in relation to money as they wanted to make a buck. A jaunt to Webster’s dictionary only yielded a male animal or a human male. In this PC world it’s hard to believe the inventors were being chauvinistic.

The other regulators seem to fit their function. The forward regulator transfers power when the switch is on or forward biased. It seems logical that the opposite would be true however the flyback circuit (which transfers power when the switch is off) wasn’t labelled the reverse converter. I have heard it referred to a “fryback” many times but remember, this is a PC show so we won’t go there. Incidentally, Bill Gates is scolding me for using the word flyback by underscoring me with his angry red line in Microsoft Word. It must be a unique name.

Unique names transition to naming companies and products as well. There are two “guidelines” here. One is: don’t pick a name that is already claimed like Intel. The other is, choose a name that sets an identity apart from all others. Otherwise, you could confuse Delta electronics with airlines and faucets and such.

In the engineering world, the circuit analysis software Saber is an example. The creators told me that it means absolutely nothing other than to set the identity apart. Motorola was named for the mobile car radio as sound at the time originated from the stationary Victrola record player. Tektronix was always a cool name to me. I was at Motorola when they spun off what’s now On Semiconductor. That name raised a few eyebrows while their ill attempt at a mascot called On’R resulted in some backlash from Mars candy over the green M&M character. Others joked that On’R looked like Mike, the one eyed character from “Monsters Inc”.

In a quirky way, the technology that engineers have created allows the American public to practice their rights of freedom of speech. This is done through the naming of wireless networks. Those buzzing for a free internet hookup nearby will experience your expressive nature. And believe me, there are some very expressive WiFi names out there. Again, this is a PC column in the PC world of corporate America so I can’t print many of them. I’d recommend you search “funny network names” yourself and see the creativity. I did however see one particular name pop up several times. It made me laugh every time. So beware of the router named, “It hurts when IP”.

1 comment on “When it Comes to Naming, Engineers Have No Lack of Creativity

  1. jimfordbroadcom
    March 30, 2016

    LOL, Scott, in multiple places!  The dog named Google, the On'R (I assume it is pronounced like “honor”) resembling the green M&M and Mike Wazoski, and “It hurts when IP”!  The funniest WiFi network name I encountered, in Las Vegas, was “Not your WiFi, bitch” or something like that!  Political Correctness be damned!

    Speaking of On Semiconductor, when it first split off from Motorola, I got one of those sticky-pad cubes with the name and logo on it from a rep or distributor.  I used to flip it upside-down on my desk so it said “rotcudnocimeS nO” with a green disk saying NO!

    Thanks for the laughs!

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