Meaning "set of correlated principles, facts, ideas, etc." first recorded 1630s. Meaning "animal body as an organized whole, sum of the vital processes in an organism" is recorded from 1680s; hence figurative phrase to get (something) out of one's system (1900). Computer sense of "group of related programs" is recorded from 1963. All systems go (1962) is from U.S. space program. The system "prevailing social order" is from 1806.
library classification system that organizes information into 10 broad areas subdivided numerically into progressively smaller topics, by 1885, named for Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) who proposed it 1876 while acting librarian of Amherst College. He also crusaded for simplified spelling and the metric system.
"made shut, not open," c. 1200, past-participle adjective from close (v.). Closed circuit "complete, unbroken (electrical) circuit" is attested from 1827; closed shop"workplace in which only union members are employed" is from 1904; closed system first recorded 1896 in William James as "complete and unalterable system (of doctrines, etc.)." Later used in a physical sense, "system in which the total mass or energy remains constant."
1550s, "occurring or acting by turns, one after the other," present-participle adjective from alternate (v.). Electrical alternating current is recorded from 1839, an electrical current which flows alternately in opposite directions without interruption.
1835, "system for conveying words over distance by musical notes" (devised in 1828 by French composer Jean-François Sudré (1787-1862); each tone played over several octaves represented a letter of the alphabet), from French téléphone (c. 1830), from télé- "far" (see tele-) + phōnē "sound, voice," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say." Sudré's system never proved practical. Also used of other apparatus early 19c., including "instrument similar to a foghorn for signaling from ship to ship" (1844). The electrical communication tool was first described in modern form by Philip Reis (1861); developed by Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) and so called by him from 1876.