Why Is Computer Software Soft?

Have you ever wondered (I’m sure you have at least about other similar words) where a word like software comes from?

I mean were floppy disks soft and malleable at one time? Or were the protective sleeves for the old hard diskettes made of some velvety material that made them “soft”ware?

Well I love this sort of thing and would like to explore with you in the following several paragraphs the origin of this word and why it is so commonplace in our computer software age.

In order to understand the derivation of the term software, as in computer software, you must first understand that there is hardware as well.

The meaning of hardware probably has a lot of levels of meaning and most were probably serendipitous over a lunch or other social gathering.

Hardware refers to the “guts of the computer machine, the actual physical reality of a disk drive and a hard disk and a monitor and the like.

These are actual physical entities that make them “hard.” You can hold them, carry them, etc. Software on the other hand is more theoretical than physical.

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