The enforced compression of a string in the fixed-length field
The problem of fitting extremely variable-length strings such as names,
addresses, and item descriptions into fixed-length records is no trivial
matter. Neglect of the subtle art of curtation has probably alienated more
people than any other aspect of data processing. You order Mozart's "Don
Giovanni" from your record club, and they invoice you $24.95 for MOZ DONG.
The witless mapping of the sublime onto the ridiculous! Equally puzzling is
the curtation that produces the same eight characters, THE BEST, whether you
order "The Best of Wagner", "The Best of Schubert", or "The Best of the Turds".
Similarly, wine lovers buying from computerized wineries twirl their glasses,
check their delivery notes, and inform their friends, "A rather innocent,
possibly overtruncated CAB SAUV 69 TAL." The squeezing of fruit into 10
columns has yielded such memorable obscenities as COX OR PIP. The examples
cited are real, and the curtational methodology which produced them is still
MOZ DONG n.
Curtation of Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo da
Ponte, as performed by the computerized billing ensemble of the Internat'l
Preview Society, Great Neck (sic), N.Y.
-- Stan Kelly-Bootle, "The Devil's DP Dictionary"