How often do you use the word “bug”, as in “there’s a bug in the system” to describe a niggling little problem with a computer? Unless you’re a computer technician that repairs other people’s computer problems, hopefully, this is a term that only comes up rarely. But have you ever wondered why it’s called a bug? Well, wonder no more, because here is the origin of the phrase computer bug, and it’s really a rather simple explanation. In fact, it comes from the first ever computer bug found.
The origin of the phrase computer bug came from an actual bug, a moth to be more precise. The discovery of the first computer bug happened one day back in 1947, which as we know was the early days of modern day electronic computers.
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In September 1947, the U.S. Navy’s Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator was undergoing several tests at Harvard University when the technicians discovered a moth on the circuit board. The machine operators removed the moth from the machine and sent out a report that they had “debugged” the computer. The term debugging quickly took on to mean repairing glitches in computer hardware and software. The weird thing is that bugs can and still do cause problems with computers, but really only the hardware side of things.
But the operators weren’t quite done yet. They then caught the moth and taped it to the computers logs of the day. Below the moth they wrote “First actual case of bug being found”. Several decades later the computer bug was sent to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Computer Museum in Dahlgren, Virginia. It can still be seen ther today, if you really want to travel all that way to see a dead moth. Then again, we do have a picture here courtesy of the museum.
So that’s the origin od computer bug. It originated from the first computer bug, which was just a moth.