A substance trapped inside integrated circuit packages that enables them to function (also called “blue smoke”; this is similar to the archaic “phlogiston” hypothesis about combustion). Its existence is demonstrated by what happens when a chip burns up – the magic smoke gets let out, so it doesn’t work any more.
See Electing a Pope, smoke test.
Usenetter Jay Maynard tells the following story:
“Once, while hacking on a dedicated Zilog Z80 system, I was testing code by blowing EPROMs and plugging them in the system, then seeing what happened. One time, I plugged one in backward. I only discovered that *after* I realised that Intel didn’t put power-on lights under the quartz windows on the tops of their EPROMs – the die was glowing white-hot. Amazingly, the EPROM worked fine after I erased it, filled it full of zeros, then erased it again. For all I know, it’s still in service. Of course, this is because the magic smoke didn’t get let out.”
Compare the original phrasing of Murphy’s Law.
noun 1. a square containing integers arranged in an equal number of rows and columns so that the sum of the integers in any row, column, or diagonal is the same. noun 1. a square array of rows of integers arranged so that the sum of the integers is the same when taken vertically, horizontally, […]
- Magic switch story
Some years ago, I was snooping around in the cabinets that housed the MIT AI Lab’s PDP-10, and noticed a little switch glued to the frame of one cabinet. It was obviously a homebrew job, added by one of the lab’s hardware hackers (no-one knows who). You don’t touch an unknown switch on a computer […]
- Magic wand
noun 1. a thin rod brandished by a conjuror in peforming magic tricks 2. any seemingly magical solution to a difficult problem: there is no magic wand for us to fix it
- Magic word
noun permission; that which permits an event Word Origin from a gag on Groucho Marx’s “You Bet Your Life Show” Usage Note in the phrase ‘(say) the magic word’