The First Computer Bug

atkins-bookshelf-triviaA computer bug, also known as a software bug or software error,  is the bane of any bleary-eyed computer programming who has to spend countless hours examining lines of code to find out why a program is not working properly. In 2002 alone, according to a study commissioned by the U.S. National Department of Standards and Technology, computer bugs cost the American economy about $59 billion per year — a figure to make anyone bug-eyed — 50% of the costs are borne by software developers, the other 50% by users.

The first computer bug, however, was not a poorly written line of code, but an actual bug — a moth, to be exact. On September 9, 1945, legendary computer programmer Grace Hopper (known as “Amazing Grace”) was working on the Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator at Harvard University trying to identify the source of a computer error. After dismantling the computer, Hopper found a moth stuck between Relay Number 70 and Panel F; she wrote: “First actual case of bug being found.” Hopper’s team was the first to actually “debug” a computer program; she is credited for coining the term.

Hopper’s journal, and the moth taped to the entry for September 9, is on display at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History.

Read related post: Qwerty Keyboard

For further reading:–first-computer-bug-found-67-years-ago


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