This variant of the saying probably comes from signal processing. It is in Wikipedia somewhat attributed to Edward W. Ng (his "famous quotes", 1990 interview in NYT) however that cannot be correct, as Google Books has matches the 1960s: Google Books
Closely related question: Origin of "one man's trash is another man's treasure"
A direct predecessor probably is: "one man's noise may be another man's music".
And the oldest version probably is by Lucretius, ca. first century BC (thanks, Andrew Leach):
"What is food to one, is to others bitter poison."
So assume I want to use the "signal – noise" variant of this saying, how should I attribute it? I of course did not make it up myself, but it is from before christ; however this specific "singal processing" adaption is probably from the 1960s. Obviously I can cite Lucretius, or Edward W. Ng, or one of the matches in the 60s...
- Do you know any good early source of this variant of the idiom that I could cite?
- Is there a good alternative way of using this quote as introduction to a topic? Should I write "vernacular" as source instead?