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What is Luser?

Luser is a slang that became popular in the early 1990s before the expansion of the Internet. The slang, however, has quite several different interpretations. In this article, we would consider the different interpretations of the slang and look at its very interesting history. So let us get to it!

The slang “Luser” is a blend of the words “Loser” and “User.” Some persons likewise consider it to be short for the phrase “Local User.” It is also known as “Luzer” or “Luzzer.” Away from its roots and synonyms now, internet slang is often used as a derogatory term to describe an irritatingly annoying computer user.

The slang is very common among hackers. It also refers to any normal computer user (not a “pro”) with the intuition that the person is also a loser. In this context, the slang is often interchangeably used with the other popular hacker slang, “Lamer.”

Very similar to the preceding interpretation, the slang can also be used to describe a mundane computer user with only user account privileges, as against a guru or an administrator who knows how to operate super accounts and access them.

Asides from hackers, the slang is also very popular among technical support staff who constantly have to deal with “Lusers” as part of their jobs. They could employ the LART tool (Luser Attitude Readjustment Tool), which is used to turn off the user’s access to computer resources. Let us now look at the interesting history of this slang.

History of Luser

The slang was coined in 1975 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, when a user walked up to one terminal. In a bid to get the computer’s attention, the user typed in Ctrl-Z. In response to that command, the computer printed out a piece of status information that included how many people were using the computer at the moment.

A patch to the system was then written to print “14 Losers” rather than “14 Users” as a joke. After this incident, several hackers (each with different bearing views on the appropriateness of the word) struggled to conclude which one to retain. At different times, they even often changed the message behind each other’s backs.

As such, whenever users logged into the computer, they would either see “say users” or “say losers.” Finally, someone conjoined both words to form “Lusers,” and then it stuck. Later on, ITS had the command /luser, which was used to display all the users (both local and global) connected to a server. Although it later ceased its operations in the mid-1990s, the slang continued to spread.


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