Off and In

Subject: Off and In
From: DAVID IBBETSON <ibbetson -at- IDIRECT -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 27 Jul 1996 11:31:25 -0400

Carl Gotlieb writes:
>Our new hardware product has a power switch that is labelled "O" for OFF and
>"|" for ON. These are not a zero and a one, but a circle and a vertical line.
> I've seen this labelling on a lot of electronic gadgets, including electronic
>typewriters and word processors (and quite frankly was always confused about
>what was on and what was off). A colleague suggested that these labels
>represent the bits 0 and 1 and were derived from that. True?

>My main question is, how have other writers described these labels? For
>instance, in a troubleshooting procedure we say, "Turn power off (O pressed
>down) and back on (| pressed down)."

These are apparently European standards. Apparently in several languages the
word used for "off" starts with an "O" and the word for "on" starts with an
"I". (I usually think of Out and In when confronted with these markings.)
The designer of the labels on theswitch on Carl's new mystery hardware
product (phew) seems to have interpreted I and O pretty freely. What
nationality is the switch, and in what languages is the hardware to be

David (the idiot) Ibbetson

David Ibbetson ibbetson -at- idirect -dot- com
133 Wilton St, #506, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 4A4
Phone (416) 363-6692 Fax (416) 363-4987

The Roman Conquest was, however,
a _Good Thing_, since the Britons were
only natives at the time.
-- _1066 and All That_ by Sellar & Yeatman (1930) Chap 1.

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