Tuesday December 26, 2000
Just as the hard-wiring of binary mathematics spun the entire twentieth century about a simple yes-no axis, the invention of the three-state switch promised to revolutionize twenty-fifth century computing. After all, with three states (negative, positive, and null charges) on nanoswitches, computers could now think in terms of yes, no, and maybe, greatly humanizing their internal logic.

This would have brought many, many more female engineers into the field of computer science (hence accelerating the pace at which computers could do useful things besides transmit, compress, and enhance pornography), except that the same abbreviational logic that turned "binary digit" into "bit" turned "trinary digit" into "tit." This nomenclatural error set computing back nearly three hundred years, and two entire generations of promising computer scientists were lost trying to keep abreast of bad puns.

Book 1: The Tub of Happiness
Bureaucracy Bountiful

Transcript

Ennesby:Okay, I've got full access to the data path. Let's see if I can play with the kernel a bit.
Ennesby:Get it? A "bit"?
Ennesby:You know, the on-off state switch, the fundamental unit of binary math, the one-or-zero value at the heart of the twentieth century's computer revolution?
Thurl:So, it's historical humor?
Ennesby:It's especially funny since this computer apparently still uses them.
Thurl:Don't fool yourself, computer puns were never funny, Ennesby.