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Stalking the elusive computer bug

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1 Author(s)
Kidwell, Peggy Aldrich ; Smithsonian Inst., Nat. Museum of American History, Washington, DC, USA

Stalking computer bugs, that is to say, finding errors in computer hardware and software, occupies and has occupied much of the time and ingenuity of the people who design, build, program and use computers. The author considers the origin of the word bug. From at least the time of Thomas Edison, U.S. engineers have used the word bug to refer to flaws in the systems they developed. This short word conveniently covered a multitude of possible problems. It also suggested that difficulties were small and could be easily corrected. IBM engineers who installed the ASSC Mark I at Harvard University in 1944 taught the phrase to the staff there. Grace Murray Hopper used the word with particular enthusiasm in documents relating to her work. In 1947, when technicians building the Mark II computer at Harvard discovered a moth in one of the relays, they saved it as the first actual case of a bug being found

Published in:

Annals of the History of Computing, IEEE  (Volume:20 ,  Issue: 4 )