More about Business Buzzword Bingo

Since Business Buzzword Bingo! went up in 1997, it has received occasional comments and questions. Below is a short history, contributor credits, and some additional buzzword references.

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The original idea came from a Dilbert cartoon. During one particularly tedious department meeting in January 1997, I reeled off a long string of buzzwords. Only one of my colleagues, Lori Colleran, got the joke and replied "Bingo, sir" under her breath. It had to be put online.

Programming a web page that creates buzzword bingo cards was a hugely unoriginal idea. The first buzzword bingo cards were probably driven by Tom Davis's little C program, from which Scott Adams presumably cribbed the idea for Dilbert. Doing a web page was obvious.

The program is simple. The program randomly shuffles a list of buzzwords, then emits the first 25 in a five-by-five bingo card. It took an afternoon; most of the time was spent on the buzzword list. The page went on the web in early February. It got passed around among a friends, we shared a few laughs, and then we promptly ignored it.

After the page went live, it began to get one or two email inquiries a month. The dynamic portions of the program were mentioned in a 1997 JavaScript article in NetscapeWorld (since deceased). Several sites have linked to the page or have borrowed the code to develop their own versions.

In April 1998, Asra Nomani at the Wall Street Journal inquired. She was doing a piece to appear in the "Weekend Journal". After the piece came out (this site wasn't mentioned), buzzword bingo made the news cycle. Subsequently, papers from Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, and New York asked about buzzword bingo. The now-apparently-defunct site launched at about the same time.

United Features Syndicate asked whether they could license the code for the Dilbert web site. When their license agreement came, it stated United Features retained all rights to the work, all derivative works, in perpetuity, etc., all for zero dollars down, zero dollars ever. Not cool; it wasn't worth any money, but at least name and authorship should be attached. After a brief voice and email exchange, UFS never came back. Apparently, the Pointy Haired Ones are in control.

During the last week of September 2000, BizBuzzBingo email started arriving at a rate of one or two a day. When asked about his interest, one correspondent replied a link to the page had appeared in Jesse Burst's Anchordesk column on ZDNet. Since the page was looking a bit dated, it got spruced up over the weekend, adding some new options and this text.

From then until about 2001, email comments trickled in two or three times a month. Occasionally, the site gets a link from online publications' humor and pop-culture columns, and was most recently cited in Tom Terez's article. Overall web site traffic is about 11,000 hits per month, mostly due to the Custom Buzzword Bingo generator added August 2002 in response to several folks requests.

In 2009, this game's hosting moved from the University of Southern California to commerical hosting sites that offered more services and flexibility. Many thanks to USC for hosting it for more than ten years. Google Ads were put on to defray hosting costs.

In 2012, the tablet revolution was in full swing. The game received a rewrite in HTML 5 and more modern Javascript to permit playing online. Click the squares to mark off a buzzword. When a row, column, or diagonal completes, hooray!

Please enjoy the fun. Also, please feel free to send suggestions for buzzwords or categories of buzzwords via the email link at page bottom.


Contributors and Credits

Thanks especially to Scott Adams and Dilbert for keeping us sane. We may own every compilation published. $$ Ka-ching! $$

The following people have contributed by making suggestions or by requesting particular buzzwords:

The following sites have either contributed ideas and vocabulary, or are just plain fun.


Buzzword Bonanza!


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Karl Geiger
Last update: 2012-12-16