Definitions for magic smoke

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word magic smoke

Freebase

  1. Magic smoke

    Magic smoke is a very strong, caustic smoke that smells of burning plastic. It is produced by overheating electronic circuits or components. The smoke often contains specks of sticky black ash that quickly fill a room. The color of the smoke depends on which component is overheating. The name "Magic Smoke" is a running in-joke that started among electrical engineers and technicians. It was more recently adopted by computer programmers. Bluish-gray smoke is released when black plastic epoxy material used to package semiconductor devices such as transistors and integrated circuits get burnt. The joke's humor operates via the logical consistency of what is observed, versus knowledge of what is actually occurring. The device was operating until the smoke was released from it, at which point the device ceases to operate. Ergo: the smoke is an essential part of the device's operation, through undetermined means.

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. magic smoke

    A substance trapped inside IC packages that enables them to function (also called blue smoke; this is similar to the archaic phlogiston hypothesis about combustion). Its existence is demonstrated by what happens when a chip burns up — the magic smoke gets let out, so it doesn't work any more. See smoke test, let the smoke out.Usenetter Jay Maynard tells the following story: “Once, while hacking on a dedicated Z80 system, I was testing code by blowing EPROMs and plugging them in the system, then seeing what happened. One time, I plugged one in backwards. I only discovered that after I realized that Intel didn't put power-on lights under the quartz windows on the tops of their EPROMs — the die was glowing white-hot. Amazingly, the EPROM worked fine after I erased it, filled it full of zeros, then erased it again. For all I know, it's still in service. Of course, this is because the magic smoke didn't get let out.” Compare the original phrasing of Murphy's Law.

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