Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Nick Nicholas has an interesting piece on The Ibycus mainframe at opɯdʒɯlɯklɑ opoudjis his blog / τὸ τοῦ ὁπουτζοῦ ἱστολόγιον.
The Ibycus computer was what Thesaurus Linguae Graecae data crunching got done on throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It was the stuff of legend, an HP 1000 customised in David Packard Jr.'s garage, with spelling and format checkers and text editors in assembler, that crunched through tens of millions of words of Greek in its own temperature controlled room.

It's also the stuff of legend featuring in the "Lernaean Text" (or Hellenic Quest text), the long-running and indefatigable distorted urban legend doing the rounds of the Net for years, claiming that Ibycus (or Imycus) has determined that Greek has 90 million* distinct words. It also says that Bill Gates wants his programmers to program in Ancient Greek, John Sculley is still running Apple and publishing with CNN (?) the Hellenic Quest software to teach the world Greek, and Greek words have deep cabbalistic meanings and no arbitrariness of signs. That's why Nikos Sarantakos calls it Lernaean: however many times you cut off its head (including refutations by the TLG itself), it keeps coming back, because enough people want it to be true...

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