The electroshock weapon called the Taser, which is typically used by police when trying to control a fleeing suspect, uses an electrical current that causes neuromuscular incapacitation. In other words, if you’re struck by a Taser, your chances of getting away are null.
There have been plenty of controversies involving the device and law enforcement. The most notorious may be the altercation that led to the phrase “Don’t tase me, bro.”The story of how the Taser got its name, however, is an even wackier yarn.
John H. “Jack” Cover, one of the brains behind the invention, named the Taser. (Cover is also a former chief scientist of North American Aerospace’s Apollo Moon Landing Program.)
As a boy, Cover loved reading a series of young adult novels about a character named Tom Swift. One of the books is called “Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle.”
Taser is actually not a word, but an acronym for a fictional weapon: Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle.
Cover added the “A” to Tom Swift’s name. The original character did not have a middle name.
Victor Appleton is the author of the Tom Swift books. But Appleton himself was also a product of the imagination. He was a house pseudonym invented by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book-packaging firm. The actual authors consisted of half a dozen ghost writers.
The verb “to tase” was backformed from Taser.
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