Re: Replacing "master" and "slave" terminology

Subject: Re: Replacing "master" and "slave" terminology
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2008 23:20:49 -0400

The terminology goes back into the time of the invention of the
servomechanism, which itself can be electric, hydraulic, pneumatic or
even (and this is stretching things a bit) mechanical. Books from the
1950s that I've read on servos refer to one unit being slaved to another.

There is an example of a paired master-slave system that is fairly
familiar, at least to people who watch old WWII naval movies. The device
called the "ship's telegraph" or "engine order telegraph" communicates
between the bridge and the engine room, and allows the unambiguous
transmission of orders and the acknowledgement of their receipt. Each
telegraph unit has a sender, which is a circular dial that has a lever
with a pointer on its circumference, and a receiver, which is a pointer
on the inner portion of the dial. To order dead slow ahead, for example,
the captain moves his handle to the position labelled dead slow ahead.
The slaved pointer in the engine room moves to show that speed, and a
bell rings in the engine room, alerting the engineer, who moves his
lever to match the pointer, and adjusts the engine's speed and
direction. When the captain sees the (correspondingly slaved) pointer on
the telegraph in the bridge move to dead slow ahead, matching the
position of his handle, he knows that his order has been received,
understood, and acted upon.

The pointer in the engine room is slaved to the lever on the bridge, and
the pointer on the bridge is slaved to the lever in the engine room. The
only sense of hierarchy is that commands issue forth from the bridge,
but (except for the bell that rings in the engine room) the two devices
are reciprocally identical. The concepts suggested by "parent-child" or
any of those other terms are inappropriate. Only master-slave is
correct, and each telegraph unit has both a master indicator (the
sending lever) and a slave indicator (the receiving pointer).

Now for a totally different perspective: Should the concept of slavery
never be mentioned? Should we never use the words master and slave, and
strive to forget that such a relationship between humans is possible?
Who wants to eliminate the words, and for what motive? There are areas
of the world where slavery of one form or another still exists,
including within the US. I cannot bring myself to put details here.

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RE: Replacing "master" and "slave" terminology: From: Chris Vickery

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