The term “patch”, meaning a software update, originates from the days when computer code was written on physical cards with holes punched in them. If there was a change in the code, you would “patch” that section of the card with a piece of tape, covering it, and if necessary, changing it.
A program tape for the 1944 Harvard Mark I, one of the first digital computers. Note physical patches used to correct punched holes by covering them.
Historically, software suppliers distributed patches on paper tape or on punched cards, expecting the recipient to cut out the indicated part of the original tape (or deck), and patch in (hence the name) the replacement segment. Later patch distributions used magnetic tape. Then, after the invention of removable disk drives, patches came from the software developer via a disk or, later, CD-ROM via mail. With widely available Internet access, downloading patches from the developer’s web site or through automated software updates became often available to the end-users. Starting with Ap… Continue Reading (9 minute read)