From Whence Came the Term 'Bug?' You'll Be Surprised, Too
was one of those, "Well, huh!," moments for me when I read in a story
from the IEEE that claims the first recorded use of the term 'bug' in
reference to a problem in hardware was not by U.S. Navy Admiral Grace
Hopper and her colleagues, as popular belief (including mine) goes.
Their finding of a dead moth - a 'bug' - in a Harvard University computer
is legend, but evidently was not the first known instance. Instead,
it was none other than Thomas Edison who may have originally used the
term. Before you go accusing the respected Institution of waging a War
on Women (a popular indictment of convenience these days) for denying
credit where credit is due, nobody is implying that she purloined Mr.
Edison's term. According to researcher Dr. Paul Israel, editor
Papers of Thomas A. Edison, and the IEEE History Center, Edison
regularly referred to technical problems as bugs. "In 1873 Edison first
confronted what he later called a bug when he began developing a quadruplex
telegraph system to transmit and receive up to four separate telegrams
on a single wire simultaneously." Edison even devised what he called
'bug traps' to isolate troublesome portions of circuits and mechanisms.
Read the full story
These photos and text excerpts are from the
U.S. Navy website (public domain content)
Grace M. Hopper, USNR,
Special Assistant to the Commander, Naval
Data Automation Command.
Speaking during groundbreaking ceremonies
for the Grace M. Hopper Regional Data Automation Center, at Naval Air
Station, North Island, California, 27 September 1985.
by PH2 Michael Flynn.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, NHHC.
First "Computer Bug"
Moth found trapped between points at
Relay # 70, Panel F, of the Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator while it
was being tested at Harvard University, 9 September 1947. The operators
affixed the moth to the computer log, with the entry: "First actual
case of bug being found". They put out the word that they had "debugged"
In 1988, the log, with the moth still taped by the entry,
was in the Naval Surface Warfare Center Computer Museum at Dahlgren,
Courtesy of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren,
Posted August 29, 2013