Definition of the word Vex

Today, a 9th grade student (not involved in robotics) saw my Vex parts poster, and asked “Doesn’t ‘vex’ mean ‘to annoy’?” I had never known the word to mean that, so I looked it up. Sure enough, the dictionary confirms she was right.

I thought the more common definition was similar to ‘perplexing’ or to gaze at something with wonder or amazement. I thought you could say that something really unique and captivating would be vexing, without meaning it is annoying.

Am I totally incorrect with what I thought the word meant? Why did IFI choose to name their product a word that means ‘to annoy.’ For a teacher with hundreds of these parts all over everywhere, that definition actually can sometimes be applied. But seriously, I’m curious how they arrived at this product name, and what it is actually supposed to mean.

VEX also means puzzle and baffle, which might be along the lines of what you were thinking.

The vEx system was named long before IFI bought it

Whenever my dad walks by while I am thinking about a design for VRC he always says “Are you solving a vexing problem?” He thinks it is hilarious, I think it is a dad joke.
I know it has the annoy definition but I think it can also be used in place of perplexing.


Oh? Really?

Back in about 2003, there was a system, developed by FIRST and IFI jointly, called “EduBot”. It featured a smaller IFI controller and the metal patterns that are now used on the VEX robots. The idea was that FRC teams could use it for small-scale prototyping and the like without needing a big (by comparison) IFI controller. Yes, I’ve played with it.

In 2005, the VEX system came online, with the FVC pilot being thrown into the mix. IFI did the development again. The result was a much cleaner version of the EduBot, and a very successful pilot (the teams played the 2004 game with modifications).

Fast forward to 2008. FIRST switched away from VEX for Tetrix and FVC became FTC. IFI went on to launch the VEX Robotics Competition (VRC).

I’m pretty darn certain that IFI did not have to buy VEX. Now, as for why they named it that, I’d go with “puzzle, perplex, baffle” as the definition–and if you have a hard time solving a problem, it VEXes you, or at least it does me. :stuck_out_tongue:

Not quite. When VEX was developed off the EduBot system, Radio Shack was pretty heavily involved, partnering with IFI for the development and distribution of the system. Don’t know which party came up with the name, but I’m certain that Radio Shack was involved just as much as IFI was when EduBot was re-branded “VEX.” And, I believe IFI did pay Radio Shack to become sole owner of the VEX line, when Radio Shack backed out a few years later.

As far as the name goes, i remember it striking me as odd back then as well. But now, I can’t think of VEX as having any other meaning than IFI’s midrange robotics platform :slight_smile:

Yeah, that’s right. It’s been so long since RadioShack was involved that I’d forgotten they were around.

I am pretty sure there was one year (Quad Quandary was the game) where the competition was named FTC but the VEX platform was still used. The next year (Face Off) the switch to the Tetrix platform was made. This coincided with the switch off the IFI platform for FRC in the same year.

Thanks for setting me straight Eric. I was introduced to vEx when Radio Shack was distributing it, I should have done more research. It did not occur to me that IFI would have developed a system that Radio Shack sold.

All things considered, the old vEx system is great for getting into robotics, we own two sets (our family), and the NERDS have half a dozen or so that have been very well used over the years.

In 2005 there was a very limited pilot program using VEX components playing a small version of the 2004 FRC game.

In 2006 there were a few teams playing “Half-Pipe Hustle” as FIRST VEX Challenge (FVC).

In 2007 the FVC really grew, and they played a great game (my opinion) called “Hangin’ Around.”

In 2008, FIRST changed the name to FTC and teams played “Quad Quandry” using VEX components. That same year, “Bridge Battle,” the first VRC game, was played in Asia and North America.

For 2009 FIRST replaced the VEX platform with Tetrix for FTC. IFI and later the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (REC Foundation or RECF) continued to support the VEX community with the VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) playing “Elevation” in 2009, “Clean Sweep” in 2010, and “Round Up” in 2011. Additionally, the Technology Student Association (TSA) has adopted VRC as its official robotics competition, BEST has adopted the VEX Cortex control system, and various other competitions from Skills to the Coast Guard Academy are partnering with VEX and the REC Foundation for their programs.

Ironically, I believe, it was Radio Shack’s decision to exit the educational robotics market in 2006 that really helped the VEX/FVC program get rolling as they blew their inventory out the doors at 50% off. Many of us running VRC programs today started by cleaning out Radio Shack stores at a big discount.

According to some old-timers at IFI, Radio Shack named the product line “VEX.”

I think you’re right, I know personally I went around to various radioshacks in the area and picked up any Vex parts I could find on the shelves.

On topic though, I’ve always found the Vex name to be fitting for the system, especially for the way a challenge and bug you to no end until you find a suitable solution.

And thus HEXBUGS were born!