Andrew Sabl offers an etymological eulogy:
The “infinite loop” metaphor is dying, almost dead. At 41, I’m almost certainly one of the youngest people to use (in middle school, when it was already almost obsolete) a reel-to-reel tape player on which one could actually splice the tape containing some music or words into a loop for the machine to play ceaselessly. Granted, “infinite loop” is also programming talk for a subroutine from which there’s no exit — hence Apple Computer’s corporate address — but that’s hardly common knowledge. I suspect most younger people have no idea what an infinite loop is, nor should they.
Seriously? I’ve never heard of the tape-player version of “infinite loop” being used as a general conversational metaphor. Is/was that common back in the day? Granted, I’m a nerd, but it’s never even occurred to me that there was ever any other origin of the phrase aside from programming lingo. That’s always seemed like the “common knowledge” version to me. From old-school BASIC, for example:
10 Print “I am in an infinite loop.”
20 Goto 10
Dictionary.com offers only the programming origin, not the tape player origin. What’s the deal, hive mind?