Five years ago, I attended one of the initial security training courses as a part of the XP SP2 effort. I wrote this up in one of my very first posts entitled “Remember the giblets” and followed it up last year with “The Trouble with Giblets”. I use the term “giblets” a lot but I’d never bothered to go out and figure out where the term came from.
Well, we were talking about giblets in an email discussion today and one of my co-workers went and asked Michael Howard where the term came from. Michael forwarded the question to Steve Lipner who was the person who originally coined the term and he came back with the origin of the term.
It turns out that “giblets” is a term that was used at Digital Equipment Corporation back in the 1980s. DEC used to sell big iron machines (actually I used DEC machines exclusively until I started at Microsoft). The thing about big machines is that you usually need more than just the machine to build a complete solution – things like Ethernet repeaters and adapters and other fiddly bits. And of course DEC was more than willing to sell you all these fiddly bits. It seems that some of the DEC marketing people liked to refer to these bits and pieces as “giblets”.
Over time Steve started using the term for the pieces of software that were incidental to the product but which weren’t delivered by the main development team – things like the C runtime library, libJPG, ATL, etc.
Later on, someone else (Steve wasn’t sure who, it might have been Eric Bidstrup) pointed out that the giblets that came from a turkey didn’t necessarily come from the actual turkey that you’re eating which makes the analogy even more apt.
Thanks to Craig Gehre for the picture.