computer science jargon from the past

John Rose
How old do you think these two phrases sound?
  • “Reified void”
  • “Access denied”

(Hint: They are older than they sound to a computer nerd.)

They sound like 21st-century computer jargon, but they both happen to predate even the 20th century.

I told Chuar that he was a great traveler, and that I knew of two other great travelers among the seers of the East, one by the name of Hegel, and another by the name of Spencer, and that I should ever remember these three wise men, who spoke like words of wisdom, for it passed through my mind that all three of these philosophers had reified void and founded a philosophy thereon.

— John Wesley Powell, Truth and Error, 1898.
Powell, a Civil War veteran, was the first to lead an expedition down the Grand Canyon,
and later became a leading scientist studying the geology and ethnology of the American West.
For the full story, see Stegner, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West.

So on he fares, and to the border comes

Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,

Now nearer, crowns with her enclosure green,

As with a rural mound the champaign head

Of a steep wilderness, whose hairy sides

With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild,

Access denied;

— John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 4, 1667.
That’s good poetry for, approximately, “He (Satan) approached Eden’s border, which was surrounded by mountains of dense and shaggy forest, denying him access.”

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