David Neal Dubois Origin of "ZELKOP" Ramblings




Many people ask where the name ZELKOP comes from. Here, for the first time on this site, the secret is revealed.
As a child, I was very fortunate to have siblings much older than myself. They always encouraged me, taught me, and I learned a lot from them. Before I reached junior high, my brother Gerry was employed as a professional programmer. He would bring home books and manuals from work, and teach me how to program.
In those days, it was quite unusual for children to have access to computers. I would write my programs, then trace through them line-by-line, pretending to be the computer, using paper and pencil for memory. This eventually led to my Zen-like understanding of computers. But having learned three programming languages, I still had never touched a computer.
Then, one evening after supper, Gerry announced he was returning to his office to do some work, and suggested I could come along. I was thrilled. He sat me in front of a Teletype, cranked up a BASIC interpreter, and let me loose.
The first thing the computer did was ask for a file name. I had no idea what a file was. After all, my paper and pencil computer had no disk operating system. So I called across the room to my brother, "Whatís a file name?" He told me "Any six characters", and returned to his work. So I just hit six keys at random. The file name I selected was:

XE;KOP

Throughout my career I always remembered my first file name. Whenever I needed a scratch name for a variable declaration I would always use it. Of course, most programming languages and operating systems donít like names with semicolons, so I used "L" instead, being adjacent to ";" on the standard QWERTY keyboard.
Years later when I decided to start my own software consulting company, I decided to use XELKOP. Since itís an invented word, it has the advantage of having no prior connotations in the mind of any potential client. I discovered, though, there was some confusion as to how the word should be pronounced. I had always pronounced it ex-el-kop, but many wanted to say zel-kop. I decided to spell it with a Z and eliminate the confusion.

And so ZELKOP was born.




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This page last updated November 15, 1997.