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The History of the World’s First Computer Bug

Have you ever wondered what is the meaning of the term computer bug and how it became so widely used to report a problem in a computer?

The term “computer bug” or a “software bug” is an unexpected error that causes problems in the computer's hardware or software system. As a result, the computer stops functioning properly and may behave abnormally or completely crash.

Literally computer bug means a flaw or glitch in a computer’s program that causes it to fail or operate in an unintended or unanticipated way.

The world’s 1st computer bug appeared in September 9th 1947, and was discovered by a team of computer scientists including Grace Hopper*, an American computer scientist, and US Navy Rear admiral, when their computer was not working. After checking what is wrong with the computer they were shocked by the discovery. There wasn’t an actual computer bug that was causing problems. It was literally a bug. When they opened the computer’s hardware, they found a moth, that had been stuck in their Harvard Mark II computer’s relays at Harvard University, and was causing technical errors.

However, this bug, which admiral Hopper found was the first bug identified in a computer. 😊

Hopper afterwards, recorded the incident in her work log, pasting the moth with tape as evidence and referring to the moth as the “bug” causing the error, and to the action of eliminating the error as “debugging”.

Since then, the term computer bug is used to describe an error or fault in the computer.

The term ‘bug’ was not invented by Hopper, it was first invented by Thomas Edison in the early 1800s when he used the phrase to describe a problem with his telephone designs. The term ‘bugs in a computer’ had been used before, but after Grace Hopper wrote in her diary “First actual case of bug being found” the term became really popular, and that’s why we are still using it today. Hopper was one of the first computer geeks in the world and went on to create the first compiler for a computer programming language and worked on the development of COBOL.