[TUHS] Origin of "bug" (was: Grace Hopper)

Greg 'groggy' Lehey grog at lemis.com
Sun Dec 10 09:41:17 AEST 2017


On Sunday, 10 December 2017 at 10:17:54 +1100, Dave Horsfall wrote:
> On Sat, 9 Dec 2017, arnold at skeeve.com wrote:
>
>>> She coined the term "debugging" when she extracted a moth from a set of
>>> relay contacts from a computer (the Harvard Mk I) and wrote "computer
>>> debugged" in the log, taping the deceased Lepidoptera in there as well.
>>
>> See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debugging#Origin_of_the_term which
>> indicates that "bug" and "debugging" had been around as technical terms
>> long before that incident.
>
> I need to investigate that further (I'd hate to spread misinformation,
> which is why I enjoy being corrected, esp. in public).

I was going to pipe up here, but I wasn't sure if it would be
interesting.  The Oxford English Dictionary has a first reference to
in this sense in 1875:

   5. orig. U.S.

   a. A defect or fault in a machine (esp. an electrical or electronic
   one), or in a process, etc.


   1875 Operator 15 Aug. 5/1 The biggest ‘bug’ yet has been discovered
        in the U.S. Hotel Electric Annunciator.

   1889 Pall Mall Gaz. 11 Mar. 1/1 Mr. Edison, I was informed, had
   	been up the two previous nights discovering ‘a bug’ in his
   	phonograph—an expression for solving a difficulty, and
   	implying that some imaginary insect has secreted itself inside
   	and is causing all the trouble.

Grace Hopper's bug doesn't get a mention.

Greg
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