Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Jargon File: Acme

Notice that the definition for ACME sums up the plot of all Road Runner episodes in one paragraph. Now why couldn't ESR have done the same for other Jargon-inspiring sources, such as Lord of the Rings and Star Trek?
This term, specially cherished by American hackers and explained here for the benefit of our overseas brethren, comes from the Warner Brothers' series of “Road-runner” cartoons. In these cartoons, the famished Wile E. Coyote was forever attempting to catch up with, trap, and eat the Road-runner. His attempts usually involved one or more high-technology Rube Goldberg devices — rocket jetpacks, catapults, magnetic traps, high-powered slingshots, etc. These were usually delivered in large wooden crates labeled prominently with the Acme name — which, probably not by coincidence, was the trade name of a peg bar system for superimposing animation cels used by cartoonists since forever. Acme devices invariably malfunctioned in improbable and violent ways.