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Re: st: The origin of the word Stata?

From (William Gould, Stata)
Subject   Re: st: The origin of the word Stata?
Date   Thu, 26 Oct 2006 08:38:28 -0500

Ronggui Huang <> asked, 

> I am informed that Stata is a invented word. But I am curious about
> the origin of the word "Stata". Is there any legend story about why
> choose this word or about how the word was invented?

I'm sorry, there is no good story.

I was the one that cam up with the name Stata, and obviously, it was based on
the word statistics.  Acryonyms were popular at the time, but I wanted to
avoid them -- especially three-letter ones -- because it would seem
derivative.  It was also a goal to choose a name that was not a preexisting
word because, in that case, trademarks are stronger.

It turns out stata is Italian for state, which I did not know at the time, but
which has not gotten in our way much.  There is also a famous person named
Stata, namely Ray Stata, who founded Analog Devices, Inc.; the "Stata Center"
at MIT is named for him.

The question of pronunciation arose early and in a surprising way.  It had
always seemed obvious to me that Stata was pronounced, well, Stata, although
Sean Becketti thought we should clarify that, so we explained in the first
manual that Stata rhymed with data.  Despite that, in the early days many
users referred to Stata as STAT-A.  There was another package, more popular
than us, called STAT/X.  I no longer hear the STAT-A pronunciation these days.

In the first manual, Stata was STATA.  It was popular to SHOUT your name 
back then, but we eventually matured.

Stata has been around long enough that I should invent a better story.
Ask again in another twenty years and I'm sure I'll have a better story.

-- Bill
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