Who named the 'noises'?

When, how and by whom did the noises – white noise, brown noise, pink noise, etc. – get their names?

First response (a blatant thread-perfume): interesting question.

I would be surprised if a specific originator can be found for any of the three.

I’d assume white noise is so called because it makes an oscilloscope or spectrum analyzer’s screen almost entirely white with its distributed frequencies.

Pink noise is almost certainly named because it’s a form of white noise weighted to match the curve of normal human hearing. (And at the time, most humans in technology labs were a variation of pink.)

Brown noise came along a lot later and is simply a bass-heavy version of white noise - so I’d guess the name is just following the pattern.

White noise is named that as an analogy to white light. White light is a mixture of every frequency of light; white noise is a mixture of every frequency of sound.

Brown noise is a shortening of Brownian noise, that is noise produce by brownian motion. It’s also called red noise, again as an analogy for light. Red light has more low frequency waves, as does red/brown noise.

Pink noise is in between white and red. It’s weighted toward low frequency waves more than white noise, but less than red noise.

There are also other colors of noise.

I don’t know who coined the terms or when.

And none should be confused with the apocryphal “brown note”.

I thought Pink Noise was the full spectrum of Human Vocal sound (bass to soprano, vowels and consonants, etc).

Actually, “white noise” is a misnomer. As defined, “white noise” has equal contributions from each section of its spectrum. White Light can have a number of distrbutions, but “blackbody” radiation, which inspired the term, has a characteristic shaspe in which the contribution from each spectral range is not identical.

I thought it was well known that Pink Noise was named after two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Noise O’Leary.

Light that looks white – stimulates the red, green and blue visual pigments equally – arises from black bodies with characteristic temperatures about equal to the Sun (5500 K). At those temperatures, the blackbody spectrum varies little over the narrow spectral range of visible light. That is, after all, exactly why it looks white.

They were named after the cast of Reservoir Dogs.

Correct – but the distribution of amplitudes is not equal over that range. It’s not even approximsately equasl, as you suggest.
I looked up “white noise” on Google N-gram viewer, and find that the usage “takes off” about 1940, but it was in use earlier. This example from Georgetown College Observatory from 1926 is particularly interesting, because it implies that the term “white” is used because there are components at each phase and at each frequency, even though the amplitude distrinution is NOT uniform, but is given by Planck;s law:

Huh, and I thought it was a scatological nickname for a whale’s ear.

:confused: I don’t get it…

I won’t claim to be a scientific historian, but these definitions smack of the sci/tech equivalent of folk etymologies. I’d have to see some authoritative citations (in the old-school sense) to give them any more credence than my jack-leg definitions, learned over 40 years of electronics design and development including audio technology.

No, I don’t have any cites for my versions. But the Wookiepedia ones smell funny.

Where did Pink Floyd get its name?

Ha. Did the same searches, found the same things and half-wrote an answer that I trashed because I couldn’t find something that might conceivably be considered a first usage.

I’ll just add that in his famous 1948 paper, Claude Shannon had this to say:

So, even though the term appears to have been seldom-used before the 1940s, by 1948 it was “firmly entrenched.”

I don’t know if it’s an artifact of the dataset, but a search of Google Books, shows that “white noise” was often used in aeronautics in the 1940s to describe cockpit noise.