Whatever happened to …

… computer names?

A big shout out to Alfred Thompson for this morning’s topic.

From his original Facebook post, some of his followers had chimed in.

  • KORAT::
  • Merlin
  • Gandolf
  • Stovokore
  • Jake
  • Elwood
  • Hal-9000
  • Colossus.TFP
  • Darwin
  • marykate
  • ashley
  • coffeepot
  • dishwasher
  • eggbeater

So, why name a computer? Well, I suppose it does humanize it but when you’re managing a network with machines in various places, it’s just a little easier to track them down if they’re named as opposed to their IP address.

I remember when we moved the Bring IT, Together Conference to Niagara Falls with the promise of great internet access sitting in the control booth and the IT Manager gasping when all these educators connected to the network. Not just once, but with multiple devices and so many of them were named.

In our household, I have all the devices named as well. It’s not like we live in a place where I would expect hackers on our wireless but it’s just so impressive to go to the hub and look at the devices that are connected. I see my PC (dougpete), my MacBook Pro (DazedandConfused), my phone (Hacker-dont-trust-me), etc. I can see the network they’re on, their signal strength, their internal IP address (which is actually the identifier for each that really matters), and so much more. I’ve never had to troubleshoot but I could if I wanted to. <grin>

Things are actually not all that dependent on names but typically you’re given the option to name a device when you set it up. So, why not?

So, for a Sunday, your thoughts…

  • do you name your devices? do you have any interesting names to share?
  • did you put the name on the outside of the computer case?
  • if you’re in a school, have you ever watched your technician track down an issue?
  • POP QUIZ: What was the name of these computers
    • the computer that was in 2001: A Space Odyssey
    • the computer that was in 2010: Odyssey Two
    • the computer that was a winner in Jeopardy
    • the computer that was in the Star Trek Episode “The Return of the Archons”
    • the computer was was in the Star Trek Episode “I, Mudd” (bonus is you remember its number)
    • the computer from the Doctor Who episode “The Green Death”
    • the US computer from “The Forbin Project” (bonus if you remember the Russian computer)
  • do you have remembrances of any other computer that appeared in media?
  • have you ever discussed computer and artificial intelligence with computer names in class? Why do we personalize these things?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

This post appeared on:


If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

4 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Good morning Doug!

    Yes, each and everyone of my computers for the past 30 years has had a name. For the first couple of decades, the Macs were all named after famous Star Trek starships, with PCs on the network getting names from federation enemies. Devices which served to mediate/allow non-partisan exchanges between the two sides within the space were given names like Wormhole, and devices like servers or a NAS would get a name that was reflective of the fact that they were a stationary repository of information rather than moving around exploring. I think my very first NAS was named SOL, given that my local, personal universe revolves around the Solar system.

    When the Star Trek franchise stopped producing shows following the end of ST: Enterprise in 2005, I needed a new metaphor, and so I shifted to computer names that reflect a positive, forward-moving outlook. Given that Star Trek is back making shows again, we’ll have to see if I revert to my original metaphor at some point. Given that my main computer is a 2013 MacBook Pro (now classified by Apple as vintage) and Apple recently starting releasing their new M1 empowered notebooks, we still have to see how long it will be before it requires/suffers replacement.

    My iPhones follow a generational nomenclature, named after my creative blog, and appended with a suffix that represents the phone’s model.

    It really is interesting to see the kinds of names people use for their Wi-Fi access points. (I really should have started making notes of the best gems years ago when WAR-driving was first thing.) You certainly see a lot of Bell 211, Bell 270, Bell 620, Bell 743, … or C0FE4A7BDDE, CE83917878AB or CE83917878AB-5G, where folks simply leave the access point SSID at whatever is the default. I am reminded of the best name for a WiFi access that I’ve seen in recent years:

    “It’s THIS this one, Mom.“ Original, useful, and hilarious!

    Have a great day Doug!


  2. Back in the days before TCP/IP was the standard I worked at Digital Equipment that had a huge for the time international network of computers. The command to log into a remote computer was SET HOST. We had a well-known computer called TWINKY. Someone modified the networking utility to allow HOSTESS as well as HOST so people could SET HOSTESS TWINKY.

    True story.

    I managed an IT data center were all the computers had names that started with NISYS followed by a letter. NI was the location code for the building and SYS was short for SYS. Boring.


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