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Kluge
  • /klooj/ [from the German `klug', clever] n. A Rube Goldberg (or Heath Robinson) device, whether in hardware or software.
  • n. A clever programming trick intended to solve a particular nasty case in an expedient, if not clear, manner. Often used to repair bugs. Often involves ad-hockery and verges on being a crock.
  • n. Something that works for the wrong reason.
  • vt. To insert a kluge into a program. "I've kluged this routine to get around that weird bug, but there's probably a better way. "
  • [WPI] n. A feature that is implemented in a rude manner. Nowadays this term is often encountered in the variant spelling `kludge'. Reports from old farts are consistent that `kluge' was the original spelling, reported around computers as far back as the mid-1950s and, at that time, used exclusively of *hardware* kluges. In 1947, the "New York Folklore Quarterly" reported a classic shaggy-dog story `Murgatroyd the Kluge Maker' then current in the Armed Forces, in which a `kluge' was a complex and puzzling artifact with a trivial function. Other sources report that `kluge' was common Navy slang in the WWII era for any piece of electronics that worked well on shore but consistently failed at sea. However, there is reason to believe this slang use may be a decade older. Several respondents have connected it to the brand name of a device called a "Kluge paper feeder", an adjunct to mechanical printing presses. Legend has it that the Kluge feeder was designed before small, cheap electric motors and control electronics; it relied on a fiendishly complex assortment of cams, belts, and linkages to both power and synchronize all its operations from one motive driveshaft. It was accordingly tempermental, subject to frequent breakdowns, and devilishly difficult to repair -- but oh, so clever! People who tell this story also aver that `Kluge' was the the name of a design engineer. There is in fact a Brandtjen & Kluge Inc. , an old family business that manufactures printing equipment -- interestingly, their name is pronounced /kloo'gee/! Henry Brandtjen, president of the firm, told me (ESR, 1994) that his company was co-founded by his father and an engineer named Kluge /kloo'gee/, who built and co-designed the original Kluge automatic feeder in 1919. Mr. Brandtjen claims, however, that this was a *simple* device (with only four cams); he says he has no idea how the myth of its complexity took hold. TMRC and the MIT hacker culture of the early '60s seems to have developed in a mi