Politically Correct Computer Terminology

Wednesday, November 26, 2003
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In the computer industry, “master” and “slave” are used to refer to primary and secondary hard disk drives. The terms are also used in other industries. Maybe not any more. After all, we must be “culturally sensitive.”

Los Angeles officials have asked that manufacturers, suppliers and contractors stop using the terms “master” and “slave” on computer equipment, saying such terms are unacceptable and offensive.

The request — which has some suppliers furious and others busy re-labeling components — came after an unidentified worker spotted a videotape machine carrying devices labeled “master” and “slave” and filed a discrimination complaint with the county’s Office of Affirmative Action Compliance.

Dennis Tafoya, director of the affirmative action office, said in a separate memo that an “exhaustive search” had been undertaken to find all such labels and replace them with more “appropriate” ones. A form was sent to all departments to identify equipment carrying the labels “master” and “slave” or any other offensive terms.

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