“Cyber Monday”: Learn what “cyber” meant before computers, and read the first sentence to use the phrase “cyberspace”

The term “Cyber Monday” was first used as part of a marketing strategy in 2005 to refer to the Monday following Black Friday.

(Why is the popular sales day called Black Friday when Black Monday refers to a day of financial devastation? Read about that here.)

The prefix “cyber” means “computer,” “computer network,” or “virtual reality.” It is used in compound words like “cyberart,” “cyberspace,” and “cybernetics.” The original Greek root kybernetes, however, literally means “steersman.” How do the senses of “steering” and “computers” intersect? The man who coined the term “cybernetics” may provide an answer.

While use of the prefix boomed with the widespread use of the Internet in the 1990s, its English origin dates back to 1948, when U.S. mathematician Norbert Wiener came up with “cybernetics,” the study of human control functions and of mechanical and electronic systems designed to replace them. Weiner applied statistical mechanics to engineering, paving the way for computer programming. In cybernetics, human knowledge creates and guides electronic systems, metaphorically steering them.

Novelist and cyberpunk author William Gibson is credited with coining the now-ubiquitous and apt term “cyberspace.” He used it first in this sentence from his 1982 story “Burning Chrome:”

I knew every chip in Bobby’s simulator by heart; it looked like your workaday Ono-Sendai VII, the “Cyberspace Seven,” but I’d rebuilt it so many times that you’d have had a hard time finding a square millimeter of factory circuitry in all that silicon.

Gibson used the term again in his 1984 novel “Neuromancer,” in a passage that many believe captures the sense of wonder that permeated the introduction of the World Wide Web to mainstream culture. Here’s an excerpt:

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.

Can you relate to the technological experience Gibson describes? Share your thoughts, below.

These days, the prefix “nano” is used almost as often as “cyber.” Learn exactly just how tiny of an amount “nano” describes, here.

University of Illinois at Chicago Researcher Debunks Mob Impact on 1960 Presidential Election.

AScribe Law News Service March 20, 2006 Byline: University of Illinois at Chicago EMBARGOED until 5 a.m. EDT Monday, March 20 – Option 1 CHICAGO, March 20 (AScribe Newswire) — An analysis of voting totals from the 1960 presidential election debunks claims that the Chicago Mob played a significant role in tilting the election to John F. Kennedy, according to a University of Illinois at Chicago organized crime historian and researcher.

Binder, UIC associate professor of finance, statistically examined election voting by four groups of Chicago wards and suburbs where organized crime would have been most able to deliver votes for Kennedy if it so desired, including:

- the 1st, 24th, 25th, 28th and 29th wards – the above five wards and the 45th ward – the five “Outfit” wards and two suburbs (Chicago Heights and Cicero), and – all six Chicago wards and the two suburbs The percentage of voters casting a Democratic ballot in 1960 was compared not only to the percentage voting Democratic in the previous (1956) or the next (1964) presidential election, but also to how the other wards in Chicago voted in 1960. in our site 2012 presidential election site 2012 presidential election

The findings, detailed in an upcoming issue of the journal Public Choice, show that in only one of eight cases is there any evidence of unusually strong Democratic voting that might have been due to organized crime.

“It certainly is not consistent with an all-out effort to elect John Kennedy, because in that case, increased Democratic voting should be evident in more than just 12.5 percent of the tests,” Binder said. “The results, as further tests show, are more likely due to a concerted effort to defeat the incumbent Republican state’s attorney, which due to straight-ticket voting in some cases, threw a few more votes to John Kennedy,” he said.

“Therefore, much of what has been written about the Outfit, the 1960 presidential election and other events involving the Kennedy family appears to be historical myth — which along with other fascinating myths, should not be taken seriously,” Binder said.

- – - – NOTE: Please refer to the institution as the University of Illinois at Chicago on first reference and UIC on second reference. “University of Illinois” and “U. of I.” are often assumed to refer to our sister campus in Urbana-Champaign.

SUMMARY: An analysis of voting totals from the 1960 presidential election debunks claims that the Chicago Mob played a significant role in tilting the election to John F. Kennedy.


  1. Brandon Ligon -  August 22, 2014 - 12:18 am

    Did I just notice a typo in this post? 0_o

  2. me -  December 15, 2010 - 5:25 pm

    i used to think the world’s funniest name was enkilbert humperdink but now i know for a fact that it’s really norbert weiner… lol

  3. lingUist geeK-sage(RP) -  December 7, 2010 - 11:00 am

    cyber monday is analogous to gargantuan online traffic…The online shopping sites are in snail-paced manner to process an order.

  4. There'snogoodnamsanymore -  December 4, 2010 - 8:41 am

    Well said, Shane cross, very few people are privy to that information. This also reminds me of a certain phrase which has been turned awry. The word “Gay” originally referring to a very happy or exuberant person has now in almost ever mind in America been twisted to mean that the term refers to a homo-sexual. It indeed does not, and I will not conform to the new use of this term we have so ungrudgingly excepted.

  5. smoothius -  December 2, 2010 - 11:47 am

    why not goofy names for the other shopping mediums and days of the week?
    telephone tuesday
    home shopping network wednesday
    lay-away thursday
    wal-mart friday
    strip-mall saturday
    oh and don’t forget
    no way i’m shopping today! sunday

  6. Mr. D [A.K.A] Elysian -  December 1, 2010 - 10:38 am


  7. iWarlock95 -  November 30, 2010 - 8:57 am

    Next person to say “Cyber Monday” is gonna get smacked by me…

  8. Shaene Cross -  November 29, 2010 - 12:25 pm

    @ im a student: Haha, same here.

  9. Shaene Cross -  November 29, 2010 - 12:24 pm

    It’s neat that almost every word has its roots in Greek, it a very cool language.

  10. mikey -  November 29, 2010 - 12:07 pm

    @Sabrina (Xanan too): the other aspect of doing on-line shopping while at work is that prior to the last 5-10 years most people had pokey old dial-up connections (56k !!) at home and higher speed connections at work so less time was required to get anything done on-line if one was at the work PC vs. the home PC. Also, employers were not as savvy (or not doing as much) about internet abuse at work so there were not devices (Websense, etc.) to monitor different types of on-line activity.

    Cyber-Monday is not near the phenomenon that it was 5-10 years ago for the reasons that most people now have faster connections on their home computers so they do not need to wait for Monday to shop, and many employers now have system software that prevents much of the on-line shopping that people used to do at work on the first Monday.

  11. Xanan -  November 29, 2010 - 11:50 am

    Pfft… i agree with alot of the comments above (except baby123, she can GTFO). So, from what i’ve collected, Cyber Monday is just a marketing ploy in order to get people to buy computing equipment on the monday after Black Friday… Though sadly that is only to be inferred by this vague post about Cyber Monday.
    As the author of this post i believe it is your duty to inform us of our continous question…
    Really… ffs…

  12. Mick -  November 29, 2010 - 11:29 am

    It’s called ‘Cyber Monday’ because before fast internet access became wide spread people would wait until they got to work on Monday to jump on the net and buy stuff – or maybe they just like to buy stuff on their company’s time – either way, they waited until the Monday after Thanksgiving to start their Holiday shopping online.

  13. CYBERSPACEMONDAYS | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  November 29, 2010 - 11:18 am

    [...] up all that Credit Card Debt and enjoy your CYBER MONDAY — MONDAY MONDAY — MONDAY — A SPACE of many sub cultural meanings — with [...]

  14. im a student -  November 29, 2010 - 11:06 am

    hehe im a 7th grade student taking notes on cyber monday right now

  15. donnie -  November 29, 2010 - 11:05 am

    . . . . he was actually describing “Mete-Data” which means,
    he was even more ahead of his time than any of us that actually knew him, knew!!!

  16. baby123 -  November 29, 2010 - 10:13 am

    ccooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllllllllllll somone talk to meeeeeee

  17. UGGGGH -  November 29, 2010 - 9:57 am


  18. AnonGurrl -  November 29, 2010 - 9:54 am

    What a strange world in which we live!!!!!!!!

  19. iWarlock95 -  November 29, 2010 - 9:37 am

    I’m going to be ‘that guy’ and just say that calling the the first week-day after Thanksgiving ‘Cyber Monday’ is pretty ridiculous. I cannot believe that somebody would make up a name for a day that is not even a holiday on a week-day and expect people to like it.

    P.S. Cyber Monday is a stupid name anyway.

  20. baby123 -  November 29, 2010 - 9:13 am

    just by looking at the picture looks so tight just want toooo read it <,.

  21. sabrina -  November 29, 2010 - 8:54 am

    Raymond, humans are “less” in the “know” about everything… I’d say now they are more quickly ill-informed and must swim greater distances to knowledge.

    Stuart- WOW- creepy… I had just finished saying a very close statement to a co-worker before reading your post- AWESOME~

    FERRET~ HMMM… Black Monday- CYBER-MONDAY because it is monday the first “full workday/weekday” after Thanksgiving, where most folks generally have more time to be on computers…(at work- less family around at home vying for online time~


  22. Whatever -  November 29, 2010 - 8:33 am


  23. AMY-LOU -  November 29, 2010 - 7:03 am


  24. Paulo -  November 29, 2010 - 6:07 am

    With the exception of the first paragraph, where the origin of the term is explained, the rest of the article gets lost in the meaning of “cyber” and forgets the original intent. I believe it to be somehow obvious that the “marketing strategy” was to motivate people to buy things online (hence “cyber”) after the “big” opportunity for in-store purchases on “Black Friday” passed, but the article does not mention it, or any other explanation, anywhere.

  25. raymond -  November 29, 2010 - 6:04 am

    how wonderful is the world of computer and technology.it seems as if human beings are in the know of everything.

  26. Dwayne -  November 29, 2010 - 5:20 am

    I’ve read most of Gibson’s books, including the ones mentioned hear. His concept of “cyberspace” from the Sprawl Trilogy is not what the Internet is today, not yet, not by far. I can only think of one nation that approaches “1984″, North Korea. If you want a scarier analogy to most of today’s overly powerful governments, then read Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. Even the United States is not that far along yet, but one can see the groundwork being laid.

  27. KStil -  November 29, 2010 - 5:00 am

    You know, you never actually said what Cyber Monday was.

  28. Cyberquill -  November 29, 2010 - 2:52 am

    That explains the first half. Now I’m waiting for the post about the origin of “quill.”

    … U.S. mathematician Norbert Wiener came up with “cybernetics,” the study of human control functions and of mechanical and electronic systems designed to replace them. Weiner applied statistical mechanics …

    So which is it? Wiener or Weiner?

  29. Michael Dadona -  November 28, 2010 - 11:57 pm


    What I can relate from Gibson’s description to the technological experience is enhancing input data through computer engineering followed by programmable processing system to reach several desired outputs.


    Having said, “unthinkable complexity”, is a matter of continual development property which is can be carried by next developer generation. Similarly, the use of digital element where its wave pattern upgradeable to infinity limit from one generation to the next generation of developers.

  30. Ferret -  November 28, 2010 - 11:40 pm

    But why is Cyber Monday on Monday?

  31. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  November 28, 2010 - 10:00 pm

    (Those were cute little flowgates: Like teenie-tiny men: The gas flowed in via the head, and out either leg: switch-steered by pressure on the arms.)

  32. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  November 28, 2010 - 9:57 pm


    Correctly it is– ‘e-cyber’-Monday as distinguished from the gas-dynamic-cyber-Monday computers with micro-dynamic flow-gates, invented in the 1960′s for steering aircraft while avoiding EMP and other electronic hazards.

  33. Zachary Overline -  November 28, 2010 - 9:00 pm

    @Stuart: I was totally thinking the same thing. Almost eerie in its accuracy.

  34. Zachary Overline -  November 28, 2010 - 8:06 pm

    Whereas the word “cyber” has its actual application, I think nano is pretty damn overused these days. It’s totally become a buzzword far divorced from its original meaning in nanotechnology.

  35. Daniel -  November 28, 2010 - 6:02 pm


  36. Anthony -  November 28, 2010 - 5:07 pm

    Interesting how the meanings of words evolve over time. By the way, Norbert “Wiener” is spelled two different ways in this article (I’m guessing one is a typo).
    “…when U.S. mathematician Norbert Wiener came up with “cybernetics,” the study of human control functions…”
    “Weiner applied statistical mechanics to engineering…”

  37. Stuart -  November 28, 2010 - 5:06 pm

    That quote from William Gibson’s Neuromancer is as prophetic when describing the Internet now as George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is as prophetic when describing the totalitarian regimes of today.

  38. Silver Fang -  November 28, 2010 - 4:32 pm

    It’s fascinating how words can start out meaning one thing and then come to mean something else entirely.


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