Years of sysadmin left syslog's severity levels, as described by The BSD Syslog Protocol, clearly imprinted in my mind. You know the drill: Emergency, Alert, Critical, Error, Warning, Notice, Informational and Debug. This left traces elsewhere, such as Java's logger with its Severe, Warning, Info, Config, Fine/r/st.
While discussing it with someone under the impression that Java's was a quick hack, a bad fit, and telling of the mindset, I wondered how old this actually is -- syslog's dating back to the 80s with Sendmail. A quick search reveals that REXX has Termination, Severe, Error, Warning, Informational & Response, which seems to confirm my suspicions.
I'm sure it has its origins in the real world, probably with an army or train company's procedures, and it would be interesting to hear about it, but I'd very much like to know the origin and lineage of severity levels, and the notion of filtering "up to" that comes with it, in the computer business.