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Topic Title: Why is a jack connector called a jack connector?
Topic Summary: History of PO 316
Created On: 20 June 2009 12:35 PM
Status: Read Only
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 20 June 2009 12:35 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

A question from a guitar forum which nobody there could answer, and I realised I didn't know either. Does anybody have any idea how the PO316 1/4" connector and its commercial spin-offs came to be known as "jack plugs" and "jack sockets"?

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 22 June 2009 04:28 PM
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mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

According to The Worldwide history of Telecommunications book, on page 118, section 11.1, it was named after a French-Canadian inventor called Mr. Jack.
 22 June 2009 04:31 PM
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normcall

Posts: 8178
Joined: 15 January 2005

It must go back a couple of years to when exchanges were 'manned' (generally by ladies) and every line went to the switch board and calls manually patched via the standard 1/4 inch jack and socket.
I would ask my mum, as she did this work all her life, but she isn't around any more.

Best I can do as no one else seems to be able to help.

Edit - I don't know, turn your back for 5 minutes and someone knows the answer,
I will file that under 'questions not likely to be asked, but I do know the answer'.

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Norman
 22 June 2009 04:41 PM
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jencam

Posts: 608
Joined: 06 May 2007

My son asked this question at college. The teacher's reply was that Jack was the name of the person who coined the terms male and female connector. Describing connectors in relation to parts of human anatomy was not considered to be appropriate in polite society at the time. Therefore the male connector was renamed a plug because nobody could think of a better name for it, and the female connector was renamed a jack after the name of the inventor and how he was called a jackass for coining the terms male and female connector. One of the earliest large scale use of plugs and jacks were in manual telephone exchanges. The plugs became known as jack plugs to prevent them from being confused with sink plugs.

There's probably jack all truth to this story but anyway...
 22 June 2009 05:01 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

That reminds me of my mother (who was the daughter of a Plymouth Brethren lay preacher) starting work in a building company in the early 1930s, she was really embarrased by the idea of male and female plumbing connectors!

I'm fascinated now to know how true the story of Mr Jack is...

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 22 June 2009 05:17 PM
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jencam

Posts: 608
Joined: 06 May 2007

Originally posted by: amillar

That reminds me of my mother (who was the daughter of a Plymouth Brethren lay preacher) starting work in a building company in the early 1930s, she was really embarrased by the idea of male and female plumbing connectors!

I'm fascinated now to know how true the story of Mr Jack is...


What about the b-a-s-t-a-r-d file with a texture between the rough and smooth files?
 22 June 2009 07:39 PM
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mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

There is a talk page on Wikipedia on the subject of Jack Plug, including history of where the name came from, but It's not very convincing.

This book seems to be the only one attributing a person's name to 'Jack plug'. I've looked at other history pages and there are no references to Mr Jack.

Edited: 22 June 2009 at 07:46 PM by mbirdi
 22 June 2009 08:27 PM
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jencam

Posts: 608
Joined: 06 May 2007

The word jack has more meanings than any other word in the English language if you include the colloquial terms and when it is used in conjunction with another word.
 24 June 2009 08:18 PM
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mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

Originally posted by: mbirdi
According to The Worldwide history of Telecommunications book, on page 118, section 11.1, it was named after a French-Canadian inventor called Mr. Jack.

I don't know if it's just me or whether others have had similar experiences.

There are times when I come across a word, a phrase or perhaps an image that has never before crossed my path. When that happens, suddenly it becomes a common occurrence. I see or hear of it everywhere I go, in a surreal way.

Today I walked into a Bank to count my pennies, as one would, only to see a woman sitting there with her back to me, on the phone. She wore a black tee-shirt with the words (in white) "Happy Birthday Mr Jack".

Edited: 24 June 2009 at 08:30 PM by mbirdi
 24 July 2009 06:07 AM
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EoinDonnellon

Posts: 299
Joined: 28 October 2002

It gets a wee bit earthy this one.
We have jack plugs and jack sockets, however I was always under the impression that Jack referred to the male of anything. (jackass, jackrabbit) or anything with a significant lever sticking out of it (car jack, jack brace etc.)or used for driving in between something (jack peg or jack wedge in quarrying). The movement in operating these is called jacking. I always assumed the jack plug was so called because of the movement of jacking it into the socket.

For me it'll always be one of those slightly earthy terms like joystick which got their names in an era when people weren't so delicate about describing things.
 08 October 2012 09:13 PM
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jbronks

Posts: 1
Joined: 01 December 2002

I've updated the Wikipedia page with some historical information that I just dug up. To summarise, there was a component in early (c.1885 to 1890s) telephone exchanges called a 'spring-jack', which evolved into the telephone jack (i.e. socket with internal switched contacts). 'Jack', as far as I can tell, was used in the sense of 'bar' or 'lever', which described the spring contact in the spring-jack. The thing that plugged into the spring-jack was first just the 'plug', then later the 'jack plug'.

So speculation that 'jack' refers to the maleness of the plug appears unfounded. However, the original sense of 'lever' or 'bar' is probably a male reference, so surprisingly it's the socket that contains the male part!
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