The first computer bug?

first computer bug
Computer pioneer Grace Hopper’s entry in the Harvard Mark II log (Wikimedia commons)

On the night of September 9th, 1945, pioneering computer programmer Grace Hopper was at work on the Mark II version of the now legendary Harvard computer. She couldn’t understand why the machine wasn’t working. She and her team began inspecting the computer methodically, trying to establish the cause of the problem so that they could eliminate it and get the thing working again.

Following this process, they eventually found a moth that had somehow become caught inside. Hopper extracted the dead insect and decided to stick it in the team’s log book with the aid of a strip of Scotch tape, preserving it for posterity. With her ink pen she annotated the entry with the words: “Panel F (moth) in relay. First actual case of bug being found.”

A new computer programming term had been coined.

Thereafter all computer glitches were known as ‘bugs’ and the process of ironing out such glitches as ‘debugging’.

Grace Hopper’s picking out of the moth from the Harvard Mark II had been history’s first instance of debugging.

(Sources: The Innovators, by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster: p94); http://uk.businessinsider.com/harvard-mark-i-grace-hopper-bug-2015-7)

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