luser /loo'zr/ n.
[common] A user; esp. one
who is also a loser. (luser and loser are
pronounced identically.) This word was coined around 1975 at MIT.
Under ITS, when you first walked up to a terminal at MIT and typed
Control-Z to get the computer's attention, it printed out some
status information, including how many people were already using
the computer; it might print "14 users", for example. Someone
thought it would be a great joke to patch the system to print "14
losers" instead. There ensued a great controversy, as some of the
users didn't particularly want to be called losers to their faces
every time they used the computer. For a while several hackers
struggled covertly, each changing the message behind the back of
the others; any time you logged into the computer it was even money
whether it would say "users" or "losers". Finally, someone
tried the compromise "lusers", and it stuck. Later one of the
ITS machines supported
luser as a request-for-help command.
ITS died the death in mid-1990, except as a museum piece; the usage
lives on, however, and the term `luser' is often seen in program
comments and on Usenet. Compare mundane, muggle.