I've always wondered what it the origin of the word log (as in "a log file") and the verb to log (as in "The server logged this event in the event journal"), in the computer science context.

Is there any relationship with the wood log at all ?

closed as off-topic by user66974, Edwin Ashworth, MetaEd, NVZ, Phil Sweet Jul 2 '16 at 2:49

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From the fabulous etymonline website:

log (n.2) "record of observations, readings, etc.," 1842, sailor's shortening of log-book "daily record of a ship's speed, progress, etc." (1670s), from log (n.1). The book so called because a wooden float at the end of a line was cast out to measure a ship's speed. General sense by 1913.*

So it does have a relationship to the wooden log - it was originally a series of measurements from a floating bit of wood.

EDIT - as an aside, the unit of nautical speed, "knots", also comes from this procedure: the line that the log was tied to had knots at regular intervals, and the sailor measuring the speed counted how many knots went through his hands in a given period of time, after the thrown-out log first hits the water.

From wikipedia.

  • 1
    Please do not answer general reference questions. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 30 '16 at 9:22
  • Since this is the first link I found which gave the answer linking back to the wood log, it seems appropriate. – Brandon Bonds Jun 9 at 21:38

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