1. Software that has some important functionality deliberately removed, so as to entice potential users to pay for a working version.

2. (Cambridge) Guiltware that exhorts you to donate to some charity.

Compare careware, nagware.

3. Hardware deliberately crippled, which can be upgraded to a more expensive model by a trivial change (e.g. removing a jumper). A correspondant gave the following example:

In 1982-5, a friend had a Sharp scientific calculator which was on the list of those permitted in exams. No programmable calculators were allowed.

A very similar, more expensive, programmable model had two extra keys for programming where the cheaper version just had blank metal.

My friend took his calculator apart (as you would) and lo and behold, the rubber switches of the program keys were there on the circuit board. So all he had to do was cut a hole in the face. For exams he would pre-load the calculator with any useful routines, put a sticker with his name on it over the hole, and press the buttons through the sticker with a pen.

[Jargon File]

Last updated: 2001-05-12



It's spelled "cryptography".

Last updated: 1996-12-13

Crisis Software

A small UK company producing software for the Acorn Archimedes range of computers.

Last updated: 1994-11-10


A Lisp-like language and compiler for the IBM 370 written by Jeff Barnett of SDC, Santa Monica, CA, USA in the early 1970s. It generalised Lisp's two-part cons nodes to n-part nodes.

Last updated: 1994-11-10


(Or "discrete") The opposite of "fuzzy".

Last updated: 1994-12-23

Crispy Critters


(Or "Crispy Crittered". From the "Post" breakfast cereal of the same name) hardware which is fried or toast.

Last updated: 1995-01-31

critical mass

In physics, the minimum amount of fissionable material required to sustain a chain reaction. Of a software product, describes a condition of the software such that fixing one bug introduces one plus epsilon bugs. (This malady has many causes: creeping featurism, ports to too many disparate environments, poor initial design, etc.) When software achieves critical mass, it can never be fixed; it can only be discarded and rewritten.

[Jargon File]

Last updated: 1994-12-23

critical section

A non-re-entrant piece of code that can only be executed by one process at a time. It will usually terminate in bounded time and a process will only have to wait a bounded time to enter it. Some synchronisation mechanism is required at the entry and exit of the critical section to ensure exclusive use.

Nearby terms:

CRENCREW PRAMcripplewarecriptographyCrisis SoftwareCRISP

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