On the ninth of September 1947, Grace Murray Hopper recorded the first documented computer bug. Decades after this, making sure bugs are out of computer systems has been an important task. But why call them “bugs” in the first place?
What is a computer bug?
A computer bug is simply a flaw in a computer system. Managing bugs is an important job because these glitches may severely affect the function and the security of computer systems.
In the case of Hopper’s team, the bug was literally a bug. Upon opening the computer, they found a moth interfering with the electronics.
Smithsonian National Museum of History possesses the log book (with the moth attached and forever preserved) in its collections, though it isn’t on display.
How was the word bug coined?
The origin of the word bug isn’t that clear. Some suspect that it comes from the Middle English bugge, which in turn comes from the Low German bögge for “goblin.”
This can be attributed to how bugs can be mysterious and difficult to find — just like small goblin troublemakers.
One key factor for the popularization of this word would be Isaac Asimov’s extensive use of it in “Catch that Rabbit” which can be found in his I, Robot collection back in 1944.
Fast forward to 1963, the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) manual mentioned the word without any effort of defining it, suggesting that the word “bug” has already made it to the everyday jargon of computer scientists.
That’s how bugs literally and figuratively made it into the world of computers. With all the developments in computer science we have now, the task of hunting down these troublemakers will — without a hint of doubt — continue on.