The autopilot of an airplane is frequently referred to as "George" (for example, in this answer). When did this nickname enter common usage, and what is its origin? Please cite sources if possible!
The first "practical" autopilot was invented by George DeBeeson (the patent can be found here, updated here) - This seems to be the most likely reason for the informal name "George" for the autopilot system on aircraft.
It is my understanding that the Pullman railcar of America ran an advert at the turn oh the 19 century "let George do it"
The term "George" as a reference to autopilots originated in the RAF in WWII. It is a reference to the aircraft's "owner" King George. Also, at the time, there was a popular radio show referenced in an earlier answer that may have reinforced the use of "George". I have spoken to a number of British WWII pilots. Everyone assumed it was a reference to King George. None of these pilots were aware of the name of the inventor of the earliest autopilot. They were, however, aware of the name Sperry.