What is Technology Without An Interesting Name (TWAIN)?

Technology Without An Interesting Name

Woman scanning a book.
Woman scanning a book with TWAIN-compliant device. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Myth or not, I've been hearing that the acronym TWAIN stands for "Technology Without An Interesting Name" for over 30 years now, plenty long enough for this bit of lore to be true by virtue of sheer longevity. Since there's nothing in the article below about actually using TWAIN or what it's used for, the following Lifewire "What is TWAIN?" article in the Graphics Software section should help clear a lot of that up.

For more extensive information, you should check out twain.org, where you'll find more about TWAIN than you can shake a stick at. In any case, there's not a lot to it, once you get it installed and working it just purrs along.

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Definition: TWAIN is a software protocol that goes between your computer and your camera, scanner, or whatever imaging device you're using. It helps ensure that your computer can understand and display the data being sent by the imaging device. It's not an acronym, but, according to the TWAIN Working Group, was taken from "and never the twain shall meet," from Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Ballad of East and West." The Working group notes the word reflected "the difficulty, at the time, of connecting scanners and personal computers."