Friday, May 12, 2023



Greetings Byters and other readers.

Yesterday I posted a joke in Laugh that relied on a play on the word typo:

A pastor, an imam, and a rabbit decide to donate blood.
The pastor comes out and says, “They tested it and told me I’m A positive.”
The imam follows up with, “Interesting! I found out I’m AB negative.”
The rabbit looks at the two of them and says, “Pretty sure I’m a type O.”

Here is some more about typos . . .


Johannes Gutenberg (c1400 - 1468) developed the world’s first mechanical moveable type printing press, in 1450.

The word ‘type’ is from the 15th century and meant "symbol, emblem”. From there it was extended to printing blocks of metal or wood with letters or characters carved on their faces, usually in relief, adapted for use in letterpress printing.

Typography, meaning the "art of composing types and printing from them," dates from the 1640s.

A typographical error is a mistake made when typing something. The term typically refers to an unintentional error that happens when you accidentally hit the wrong key on a keyboard.

The first records of the word typo as a short form of typographical error come from the 1890s.


The word “dord”, supposedly meaning density, is a non-existent word entered into the second edition of Webster's New International Dictionary by mistake.

Merriam-Webster published its second edition dictionary in 1934, involving the labour of 250 editors and consultants.

Chemistry editor Austin M. Patterson typed up a slip of paper and stamped it. It represented information that would become an entry, and this one was intended to be one of several slips for the letter "D" as an abbreviation—in this case, for "density." It should have been read as saying something like "capital d and lowercase d are both used as abbreviations for 'density.'" The person who handled the slip thought there was a space missing, underlined it with a wavy line and it was included in the dictionary with the definition of density.

It remained in the dictionary for 13 years.


In 1997, Larry Page and Sean Anderson sat around a table at Stanford University brainstorming names for a massive data-index website. Anderson suggested "googolplex," one of the largest describable numbers. In decimal notation, ‘googolplex' is written as the digit 1 followed by one hundred zeroes. The word was picked to signify that the search engine was intended to provide large quantities of information.

Page shortened the word to "googol” and checked the availability of the domain name. However, when he typed the name online, Anderson mistakenly typed "google". Fond of the name, Page immediately registered the site.

By the way, the original intended name was Backrub.

By the way #2, those old enough may recall having heard a song Barney Google (with the Goo-Goo-Googly Eyes):

Hear it by clicking on:

It was a hit in 1923, the character of Barney Google having been created by Bill DeBeck. He both copyrighted and patented the character in 1923, which gave him protection for 95 years (to 2018). Google the company was founded in 1998 but it is unknown if any money was paid to use the name.

By the way #3, Billy DeBeck, creator of Barney Google, also came up with many phrases and words, including "sweet mama", "horsefeathers", “heebie-jeebies”, “hotsy-totsy” “doodle bug”, “great balls o’ fire” and “time's a-wastin'”.

Billy DeBeck


Mariner 1 was built to conduct the first American planetary flyby of Venus and was the first spacecraft of NASA's interplanetary Mariner program.

Unfortunately for NASA, less than 5 minutes after launch Mariner 1 headed not for Venus but for the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic, causing NASA to abort and  have Mariner 1 self destruct.

It was subsequently determined that the hand-written guidance and navigational equations contained the symbol "R" (for "radius"). This "R" should have had a line over it ("R-bar" or R̄), denoting smoothing or averaging of the track data coming from an earlier calculation. But the bar was missing, and so the computer program based on those equations was incorrect. This was not an error in programming, but an error in the specification.

It cost NASA over $150m in today’s money. Arthur C. Clarke said the mission had been "wrecked by the most expensive hyphen in history."


In 1870, a German chemist named Erich von Wolf accidentally printed the decimal point in spinach's iron content one spot too far to the right. This incorrectly increased the vegetable's iron level to 10 times the actual amount, 3.5 grams of iron became 35 grams.

Even though another group of German researchers recognized the error in 1937, the myth stuck. People started to tout the idea that spinach contained just as much iron as red meat. Even today, doctors tell their anemic patients to bulk-up on spinach.

It also inspired Popeye's creator to have spinach give him his strength:

I'm strong to the "finich",
'cause I eats me spinach.


In 2010, then-director of Chile's minting department, Gregorio Iniguez, okayed production on 1.5 million 50-peso coins that spelled the country's name incorrectly. The coins read "C-H-I-I-E" next to a serious silhouette of a Chilean national hero. Iniguez was fired after the issue.


If you are chuckling at that fumble, spare a thought that sometimes fumbles begin at home.

In 2019 The Reserve Bank of Australia confirmed the existence of a printing error on the new $50 note after a radio station posted a photo on social media sent in by a listener.

The word "responsibility" is misspelled as "responsibilty", missing the third "i":

The word appears in the text of a speech made by Edith Cowan, who was the first Australian woman to serve as an MP. 46 million of the $50 notes were rolled out in October 2018, at a value of $2.3 billion, the word appearing three times on the banknote in the excerpt, all of which are misspelled in the same manner.


And some visual ones (although some would have to be regarded as errors rather than strict typos). . .



More to come.

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