A Hexadecimal Pronunciation Guide, by Robert A. Magnuson - Datamation Vol. 14, No. 1, Jan 1968

I recall discussing with a fellow CS student many years ago the topic of how speaking hexadecimal values seemed to be.. well, clunky. We both thought it strange no one had standardized a set of word stems like we have for the base ten numerals, 'teens', 'fortieth', and so on. All these years later I discovered, as it turns out, someone did. It just didn't catch on, for some reason.

An obscure article in Datamation, Vol. 14, No. 1 dated January, 1968 (alternate link, contains an article by one Robert A. Magnuson, proposing an extension to English number pronunciation for hexadecimal:

Table 2. New Names for Hexadecimal Digits
A ann
B bet
C chris
D dot
E ernest
F frost
The pronunciation of the -teen's and -ty's for the new
digits is shown in Table 3. Note that the analog of the decimal pronunciation system has been used. The new name for each new digit has been chosen so that at least one of the -teen and -ty modifications is familiar sounding.

Table 3. -Teen and -Ty Pronunciation for the New Digits

1 A annteen
1 B betteen
1 C christeen
1 D dotteen
1 E ernesteen
1 F frosteen
A0 annty
B0 betty
C0 christy
D0 dotty
E0 ernesty
F0 frosty

Now 29's successor 2A can be pronounced "twenty-
ann" without the slightest tendency to confuse it with 28.
The pronunciation of C4 is "christy-four," and that of A4
is "annty-four." There is no problem in distinguishing
between 1A, "annteen" and 18, "eighteen." And 88, 8A,
A8, and AA are easily distinguished when pronounced
"eighty-eight," "eighty-ann," "annty-eight," and "annty-

Some two-digit hex numbers, each representing one byte, appear with their new pronunciations in Table 4.

Table 4. One-Byte Strings with Pronunciation
2F twenty-frost
F2 frosty-two
5B fifty-bet
3E thirty-ernest
AF annty-frost

Some four-digit hex numbers, each representing two
bytes, appear with their new pronunciations in Table 5.

Table 5. Two-Byte Strings with Pronunciation
A01C annty christeen
1ED0 ernesteen dotty
A007 annty oh-seven
DEAF dotty-ernest annty-frost
3A7D thirty·ann seventy-dot
47F0 forty-seven frosty

The problem of the values of the added digits being off
by one is now easily solved. Merely remember the "ages"
of these new-found friends. Learn that ann is 10, bet is
11, etc. without becoming confused with the fact that A
is associated with 1, B with 2, etc.

The problems of some of the hex digits being NUMERIC
and the others ALPHA on the model 29 keypunch is solved
in the following fashion. Select a particular finger of the
left hand, say, the little finger. No other finger of the left
hand is to be used. The home position of that left little
finger is on the NUMERIC key. The right hand is used for
typing 0-9 and the (numeric) comma while the left little
finger holds down the NUMERIC key. When· A - F arise,
they are typed with the left little finger-thus ensuring
that the NUMERIC key is not depressed. Return the left
finger to the home position on the NUMERIC key imme-
diately upon finishing A-F.


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