When vendors insult themselves


During Windows 95, when we were building the Plug and Play infrastructure, we got an angry letter from a hardware vendor (who shall remain nameless) complaining that we intentionally misspelled their company name in our INF files in a manner that made their company name similar to an insulting word.

This is of course a very serious accusation, and we set to work to see what happened. It didn't take long to find the misspelling. The question now was why we spelled it wrong.

Further investigation revealed that the reason the company name was misspelled is that they misspelled their own name in their hardware devices' firmware. When Plug and Play asked the device for its manufacturer name, it replied with the misspelled name. So of course our INF file had to have an entry with the misspelled name so that we could identify the device when the user connected it. (The name displayed to the user did not contain the misspelling.)

We sent a very polite letter to the company explaining the reason for the misspelling. As far as I am aware, they never brought up the subject again.

Comments (14)
  1. Andrej Budja says:

    That’s so funny :) Keep up the good work Raymond. Your posts are excellent!

  2. Jason says:

    How about a hint?

  3. Andrej Budja says:

    let’s go and check the INF files from win 95 ;)

  4. runtime says:

    at least tell us the misspelled name! PLEASE!

    Raymond, you NEED to write a book of your superbly geeky Windows trivia! PLEASE! :-)

  5. Mike Dunn says:

    Ah, so even in 1995 everything was Microsoft’s fault? ;)

    I have an OSR 2 CD lying around at home somewhere. Not sure if I have 950 though. I’ll skim thru the INF files and see what I can find :)

  6. runtime says:

    3com?

  7. Mike says:

    OK, I have nearly gone blind. I have scanned 147 .inf files in the original Win95 distro.

    I found one misspelled company name. It’s a Japanese company. I suspect the unintended word is another Japanese word, and I’ll venture a further guess, thanks to some translation sites on the web, that the unintended word is slang for a body part. Or something like that. Or maybe it means doo-doo. I don’t know.

    Raymond, please put me out of my misery. I can’t see anymore.

  8. runtime says:

    Mike, you must post your guess before Raymond reveals the answer. Otherwise, how do we know you truly deserve our awe? :-)

  9. Nate says:

    matshita? (matsushita)

  10. matshita doesn’t mean anything bad in Japanese, but it sort of does in english, in an austin powers sort of way ; ).

  11. jason says:

    I don’t speak Japanese, but I heard on NPR once that in Japan, they’re nick-named "manashita", which means "they copied". I guess they’re more known for iteration than innovation.

  12. Damit says:

    I guess it’s interesting to know that this (if it really *is* Matsushita) is that it continues even now.

    For example, my laptop’s DVD/CD-RW drive appears in WinXP Device Manager as a "MATSHITA ….."

  13. kazuya says:

    MATSHITA may not be that misspelling, just the SCSI device vendor name should be in eight or less characters, I believe.

  14. Norman Diamond says:

    When a name is abbreviated to 8 Italian characters in order to work with an 8-character limitation, the act of abbreviation is not necessarily a misspelling. Surely every customer of Micros~1 already knows this.

    I do wonder why Matsushita didn’t choose Matusita as its vendor name, since this would have avoided the need to abbreviate.

    As for sounding rude, of course any Japanese name that contains the word meaning "under", and the past tense of any Japanese verb that includes the word meaning "to do", would sound rude in English. The English name "Debbie" is laughable in Japan, though not necessarily rude ("Hi, my name is Fatso"). Try presenting a German with a gift and just say the word "gift" without any hint that you’re an English speaker. Things like this just happen.

    So what was actually the misspelling?

Comments are closed.