Words-worth: 'Platform'

Once, the only 'platform' managers needed to know was the one they braved for the morning commute. Not any more...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Now, it can be a policy position, a type of computer or software, or the underpinnings of a car. Or almost anything to do with television, from the maker of programmes to the satellite that transmits them, and the thing you watch: laptop, mobile or TV set. In 15th-century French, it meant 'flat shape'. Arriving in English in the 1550s, it meant first an architectural floorplan, then the floor itself, then any flat surface: Hamlet meets his father's ghost 'on the platform', a flat part of the battlements. Politicians have stood on platforms to speak since time immemorial. They might even share a platform - a set of policies. The computer platform may have started with 1980s platform games, in which moustachioed plumbers and blue hedgehogs jump between flat surfaces. In modern usage, it's a metaphor: the technological platform is the bare stage on which you build your artistic masterpieces - or not.

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