The Crow

Blog Post created by JohnnieHancock Employee on Sep 1, 2016


During my nearly 37 year career at HP, Agilent, and now Keysight, I have presented lots of oscilloscope seminars and workshops to our current and potential customers. Back in the late 1980’s I did my first oscilloscope seminar tour in Australia with a focus on explaining the differences between analog oscilloscopes and digital oscilloscopes. During this seminar tour I kept hearing the Aussies refer to the scopes as “crows”. In my mind I was picturing an annoying bird and thought that this must be some kind of derogatory term. During this era digital oscilloscopes were in their infancy, and as such had some quirky behaviors relative to their analog predecessors. So this made sense to me that these guys might be frustrated with digital scopes and would call them names. After all, I sometimes call my instruments names if I can’t get them to behave properly. Although it is usually a pilot error on my part when this happens. But never “crow”. Finally during one of the seminars, I asked, “Why do you guys keep calling these things “crows”? It was explained to me that they weren’t calling the them “crows”, but were referring to them by the acronym CRO, which stands for cathode ray oscilloscope.

To this day, Aussies still affectionately refer to their scopes as CROs, even though oscilloscopes no longer have cathode ray tubes. But I guess we still refer to rolling up our windows in our cars and dialing a number on our phones. So we’ll forgive the blokes down under for calling their scopes “crows”. Which brings up another thought. Why is Australia considered “down under” instead of “up over”? Who decided north was up and south was down?

What else are scopes called? There’s digital storage oscilloscope (DSO). There’s digital phosphor oscilloscope (DPO). There’s mixed signal oscilloscope(MSO). There’s mixed domain oscilloscope (MDO). And there’s sampling oscilloscope. What’s the difference?  Perhaps this will be the topic for a future blog. G’day.