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April 11, 2012 4:04 PM   Subscribe

What was the first use of the "Powered by X" phrase?

There are hundreds of marks that include this phrase. I don't remember ever seeing it before the early days of the web and "Powered by Netscape" and the like. Does anyone know where this phrase came from?
posted by dmd to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Usenet has it showing up around 1995.
posted by dgeiser13 at 4:44 PM on April 11, 2012

Probably from the placards on machines literally powered by a particular manufacturer's engine. This practice is quite common on aircraft of almost any era.
posted by Strizh at 4:45 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The AC Cobra (or Shelby Cobra) was "Powered by Ford" in 1962. So was the Sunbeam Tiger, at least until Chrysler bought Sunbeam. A lot of British and European specialty carmakers used American engines from the 50's through the 70's.
posted by leaper at 5:34 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

The car Jim Clark drove to victory in the 1965 Indianapolis 500 had on the sides and nose the slogan: "Lotus Powered By Ford" There were other "Lotus Powered By Ford" cars in other races and seasons, as well.
posted by The World Famous at 5:41 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't have sources but I'm thinking this might be an industrial revolution phrase -- the first one that pops to mind, the steam engine -- "powered by steam" certainly seems like one that would come up.
posted by countrymod at 6:09 PM on April 11, 2012

A Google search makes me doubt my own memory, as I turn up nothing that backs this up.

But I remember first seeing people with "powered by Bich" decals on their cars in around 1992. These were people who put a lot of money into their cool cars, and I remember being told that Bich was a brand of power amp. After these stickers reached a certain critical mass, then imitations started showing up, some humorous, some tongue-in-cheek, and some merely promotional in a trend-exploiting way, stretching the meaning so much that "powered by," which was at first used literally, came to mean "in some way at least tangentially associated with."
posted by univac at 10:54 PM on April 11, 2012

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