Etymology
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hardware (n.)

mid-15c., "small metal goods," from hard (adj.) + ware (n.). In the sense of "physical components of a computer" it dates from 1947. Hardware store attested by 1789.

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software (n.)

1851, soft wares, "woolen or cotton fabrics," also, "relatively perishable consumer goods," from soft + ware (n.). The computer sense is a separate coinage from 1960, based on hardware.

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ware (n.)

"manufactured goods, goods for sale," Old English waru "article of merchandise," also "protection, guard," hence probably originally "object of care, that which is kept in custody," from Proto-Germanic *waro (source also of Swedish vara, Danish vare, Old Frisian were, Middle Dutch were, Dutch waar, Middle High German, German ware "goods"), from PIE root *wer- (3) "perceive, watch out for."

Usually wares, except in compounds such as hardware, earthenware, etc. Lady ware was a jocular 17c. euphemism for "a woman's private parts" (but sometimes also "male sex organs"), and Middle English had ape-ware "deceptive or false ware; tricks" (mid-13c.).

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*wer- (3)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "perceive, watch out for."

It forms all or part of: Arcturus; avant-garde; award; aware; beware; Edward; ephor; garderobe; guard; hardware; irreverence; lord; panorama; pylorus; rearward; regard; revere; reverence; reverend; reward; software; steward; vanguard; ward; warden; warder; wardrobe; ware (n.) "manufactured goods, goods for sale;" ware (v.) "to take heed of, beware;" warehouse; wary.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin vereri "to observe with awe, revere, respect, fear;" Greek ouros "a guard, watchman," horan "to see;" Hittite werite- "to see;" Old English weard "a guarding, protection; watchman, sentry, keeper."

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firmware (n.)

"permanent software programmed into a read-only memory and providing the low-level control for the device's hardware," 1968, from firm (adj.) + ending from software.

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cowbell (n.)

1809, "bell attached to the neck of a cow to indicate her whereabouts" (usually oblong and of a heavy, clanking tone), from cow (n.) + bell (n.). They are cut from sheet metal (mostly copper, or iron coated with bronze) and folded into shape. As a musical instrument (without the clapper) by 1919; in that period associated with, and scorned as an absurdity of, jazz.

Art is long and time is fleeting,
   And the man who cannot play,
On a cowbell wildly beating,
   Calls it "jazz"—and gets away.
[from "The Psalm of Jazz," Oregon Voter, Aug. 30, 1919]

But an article on cowbells in "Hardware" magazine for Dec. 25, 1897, notes: "Cowbells are made in ten sizes, whose sounds range through an octave. Sometimes musical entertainers who play upon bells of one sort and another come to the manufacturer, and by selection among bells of the various sizes find eight bells that are accurate in scale."

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