An acronym is a word made of the initials in a multi-word title. It must be pronounceable and at least an approximation of a real word. It should be clever in some way.

I implemented my high school science project on the BRLESC computer. The acronym was Ballistic Research Laboratories Electronic Scientific Computer. In 1963, it was the world’s 3rd fastest computer, after the LARC and Stretch. Those were the Livermore Advanced Research Computer and the Stretch, which was also called the IBM 7030, but was not an Acronym. The BRLESC was at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, where I lived during high school. The computer was located where the ENIAC had been and nearby was the EDVAC. My project was to program the computer to play the game of Mancala.

My project won second place in the 1964 Baltimore Region Science Fair. I got to go to the National Youth Science Camp and met Neil Armstrong there. I talked to him about inertial coupling. He had stabilized the X-15 rocket plane using the hydrogen peroxide jets that replaced the aerodynamic control surfaces at high altitudes. I wanted to ask him about whether he corrected pitch, yaw, and roll all together or did he find that one axis was best first, but he went on to another question.

With my background involving acronyms, I was primed to create clever ones of my own. While at the University of Maryland, I made many acronyms.

SATURN – Strassberger’s Advanced Tape Utility Retrieval Navigator. This was a program that searched and matched sequential tape files, extracted data and wrote new files or created reports. It eliminated our need to write many COBOL programs. COBOL is not a pure acronym because CO stands for Common and the rest stands for Business Oriented Language.

GUMDROPS – General University of Maryland Disk Resident Operating System. The Honeywell 2000 computer was tape oriented. I ported the COBOL compiler to run from the disk. This greatly improved the speed of the compiler, especially when it found a fatal syntax error in the user’s program. The various phases of the compiler were read off the tape in sequence then the compiler had to skip the generator phases for a fatal compilation. The compiler tape would suddenly go forward a long distance to load the printout phase. On the disk, the next compiler phase was loaded instantaneously.

KISMET – Knowingly Interfering Supervisor Monitoring Every Thing. Kismet means fate. This was the disk-resident supervisor program.

MONSTR – MONitor by STRassberger. This was an abbreviation, not quite an acronym. This was an Input/Output utility program. The operator would turn on sense switch 1 for card reader to tape 1, switch 2 for tape 2 to printer 2, 3 for tape 3 to printer 3, 4 for tape 4 to card punch. Any combination of switches could be set simultaneously.