Like most hobbies, Retro Computing comes with its own set of slang, and fan-created nicknames for products. Sometimes they are affectionate, sometimes derogatory – but one things for sure, if you’re new to the hobby you will have no idea what people are talking about!
This document is a permanent work-in-progress and will be added to over time.
The current list is basically all the ones off the top of my head, and mainly cover slang for systems I’m familiar with. If you’d like to suggest something, or if you know the earliest use, or origin of some of these terms – let us know in the comments, on twitter or message us on our contact page.
Bread Bin / Bread Box
There were several different cases for the Commodore 64, so ways to differentiate them were needed. The earlier beige model (the same shape as the VIC 20) is referred to as a Bread Bin, or Bread Box (depending on where you’re from).
When loading a game, you would have to type LOAD dit-dit.
Derogatory term by Dreamcast owners for the Playstation 2.
Users of the Acorn Electron
Nickname for the first X Box controller, as it was so massive. Also nicknamed “The Duke”.
Mastertronic’s cassette games which featured an Amstrad CPC game on one side, and a ZX Spectrum game on the other.
Heavy Sixer and Light Sixer
The initial run of the Atari 2600 was manufactured in Sunnyvale, California. The second run was manufactured in Hong Kong, and used lighter materials, hence the names Heavy Sixer and Light Sixer being used to differentiate. The Sixer was so-called to differentiate from later models which only had four switches on the front – the Heavy and Light Sixers had six.
Hockey Puck (Mouse)
A slang name for possibly the most rubbish mouse in the world: the one that came with the first round of Apple iMacs in 1998.
A term mainly from the arcade. Most early arcade games didn’t have a specific ending, they just tended to loop, getting faster and faster.
However, skilled players would reach levels that the designers could never have dreamed of, causing the games to glitch out in some way and ending.
Pac-Man is famous for its kill screen on level 256.
See Heavy Sixer
Nickname for the mouse which came with the Amiga 500, and other pre-Amiga 600/1200 models.
Term used to describe the ZX Spectrum 128K (pre-Amstrad version). So named due to the slotted part on the right-hand size.
In 1982, the Atari VCS was renamed to the Atari 2600, and the coloraturas changed to all-black. These models are called The Vader, or Darth Vader.
Vulcan Nerve Pinch / Vulcan Death Grip
In the Star Trek universe, the Vulcan nerve pinch is a technique used by Vulcans to render unconsciousness by pinching a pressure point at the base of the victim’s neck.
The term was used by Amiga fans to describe the soft reset, which could be achieved by pressing
CTRLand the two Amiga keys together.
Pre-1982, all Atari VCS’s had a woodgrain effect on the front. These models are nicknamed Woodies. The come in three versions: Heavy Sixer, Light Sixer, and Four-Switch.
Please let us know of anything you think we need to add!