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etymology

What's the source for NASA first using the waldo name? It was added by an anon in February. Tom Newby, in interviews for Fraggle Rock: Complete Third Season (about 9 minutes into "Electro-Mechanical Puppetry" under the Tunnel of Faz-inating Secrets menu), suggests that it was Jim who first coined the term after Heinlein's book Waldo & Magic, Inc.. —Scott (talk) 01:21, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

It's fairly murky. I'll check the featurette later to see exactly how Newby worded it, but the main source for the NASA connection seems to be an out of print book, Becoming a Computer Animator by Michael Morrison, excerpts of which are floating all over the net:
During this time, Jim Henson of Muppets fame approached Brad DeGraf at Digital Productions with the idea of creating a digital puppet. Henson had brought with him a Waldo unit that he had previously used to control one of his puppets remotely. The device had gotten its name from NASA engineers years earlier. They in turn had taken the name from a 1940's Sci-Fi book written by Robert A. Heinlein about a disabled scientist who built a robot to amplify his limited abilities. The scientist's name was Waldo. Thus when NASA (and later Henson) built their own version of the unit, they dubbed it Waldo.
A Screen Actor article by Harry Medved from 1991 offers further details on it, and gives Henson credit for pioneering its use in film, but again suggests the term originates with NASA. Mind, the article is reprinted on a website for an effects site which also claims to have copyrighted the phrase "Waldo" in 1995, so I'm not sure how reliable all that is.
There's a much better source, but unfortunately I can't get at the full text. Through Google Books, I found a 1962 NASA publication, which mentions the Waldo. The link is here, but it only allows viewing of snippets, and I can't get at the full text. It's enough to more strongly suggest that it was used by NASA prior to Henson, anyway; the excerpts in fact suggest that this is the result of preliminary study into the creation of such a device. Given that it's a government publication, I don't know how easy it would be to get copies from inter library loan; Google Books got their limited scans from the University of Michigan, which seems to do likewise on any and all out of print government publications or scholarly journals they added, so if we know anyone around that region, they could check. As stands, I'd say it's fairly decent evidence (which checking the full text might make definitive). -- Andrew Leal (talk) 02:18, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
Those all sound like good sources to me. It's quite possible that Newby was paraphrasing, or remembered things out of context. It *was* over 25 years ago. —Scott (talk) 02:33, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
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