Duct Tape

Note: This page will link to many people, projects, and products. These links are not affiliate links, and no mention is an advertisement or endorsement of the thing or its owners. Likewise, dt is not endorsed or supported by anything linked here. There is no relation to any of these people, projects, or products, aside from some common interest in "duct tape."

The only exception is Red Green, who I (J.R.) will happily endorse as both the ultimate handyman, and a solid comedy series. Quotes from Red Green are included with permission from Sam Smith.

Excuse me, is it "duct" or "duck" tape?

The original name is "duck tape" and refers to the "duck cloth" under the adhesive.

The far more common name these days is "duct tape" and most but not all of the references in dt documentation will use this term. As far as I can tell, the etymology here is a misspelling that caught on. The most popular tape for actual ducts uses aluminum.

To confuse things even more there's also a product out there called "Duck TapeĀ® Brand Duct Tape." This is not an advertisement or endorsement, but they do have a pretty cool history page.

Vesta Stoudt

Vesta Stoudt, who was 51 years old, and a mother of 8 at the time, is credited with popularizing the most common form of duck tape that we know and love today. She was sure she had a great solution for sealing ammunition boxes that could also be easily ripped open. Her bosses didn't do anything where her suggestion, so she mailed President Franklin D. Roosevelt and he did.

Vesta's pragmatic initiative is an inspiration for what dt can be.

Johnson and Johnson have a great article on Mrs. Stoudt as part of their heritage articles.

Red Green

There are many references to Red Green throughout the dt project, and his handyman wisdom has helped shape this project. Quotes are included in the project with permission from Sam Smith.

Red Green knows the handyman's secret weapon is duct tape. Watching Handyman Corner as a child, I (J.R.) saw duct tape used for everything from repairing pants and fixing spare tires up to jet packs and the creation of a "Hummer" by duct taping two partial vehicles to each other... Some of these projects even lasted longer than the segment! This has surely influenced the design of dt in ways I might not be able to articulate.

Red Green is not the only connection to red and green, it's also a reference to Chuck Moore's colorForth programming language. Unlike colorForth, dt does not have any syntactic or semantic meaning for the colors and only ever uses them as decoration when printing information. To support the colorblind, dt always treats green as bold.

Just like there's not just one brand of duct tape, dt is not the only software with a duct tape theme, and not nearly the first. Here are some others:

  • Duktape: An embeddable Javascript engine.
  • Ducttape: A workflow management system for researchers who love Unix.
  • DuctTape: A build system for Half Life 2 modders.
  • Duct Tape Simulator: A game where you are duct tape and go fix things. Games are software! I'll have to give it a try.

I'll have to give these a try some day. Should dt ever use these...? Maybe, it does sound like there might be some kindred spirits out there.

As a bonus, Joel Spolsky has written about The Duct Tape Programmer and I think it captures some of the ethos for why I wanted dt to exist and what I wanted it to encourage.