Why do they call them radio buttons, dad?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005
We all know what radio buttons are -- software buttons that allow you to make only one selection. But why do they call them by that name and how do you explain the answer to a kid who was born long after those radios - the ones with the mechanical push-buttons - disappeared?

Radio Button.jpg

I faced this challenge, this evening, as I taught my children how to install Windows XP onto their computers. (Part of our homeschool computer class)

My answer: a radio button is a round button you can click on to select one of several choices in a list. You can only select one radio button at a time. When you select another button, the original button is deselected - it "pops up," just like the mechanical car radios. (Unless, of course, you were like me as a kid: I tried to see how many buttons you could push down at the same time.)

Google, provides a technical definition here.

However, Jake Howlett, has a much better explanation.

Discussion/Comments (1):

Why do they call them radio buttons, dad?

Wow, what a cool dad to be teaching your children at home...and how to install Windows XP nonetheless! Yes, I can appreciate the complexity of explaining such concepts of why radio buttons are so-named to your children. I face similar difficulties in explaining some "old tech" concepts to my students. It's difficult to explain something, let alone for them to understand it, when they have no reference from which to make connections. I can only imagine the day when I'm explaining something to my children (none right now!) about the tech with which I'm currently familar, but they'll likely have no experience with whatsoever.

Posted at 5/10/2005 10:42:26 PM by Michael Willits



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