What was the World’s First Computer Bug?
Well you know what a bug is…no doubt you’ve been on the receiving end of the naughty antics of a computer bug before. But do you know why a computer/software ‘bug’ is called a bug? Or that there even was a ‘first ever’ bug?
Here’s a yummy picture of a squished moth and some notes around September 1942.
This is a very famous moth as it inadvertently expired inside the Harvard Mark II computer. This was around the same time that the notes were made.
Although the term “bug” had been widely used in engineering, this was the first time the word had been used to describe a computer fault. And so the first computer bug happened!
The Harvard Mark II computer was an electromechanical computer – meaning it had some mechanical parts, not like the computers of today. It was built around 1947 for the US Navy. It was so big that it filled a whole room!
Any insects getting inside the components could cause parts to short circuit and the computer would malfunction.
And so, whilst analysing one of these short circuits, the bug was found and recorded for all of history.
The lady who’s team made the notation – Grace Hopper – was one of the first programmers to work on the Harvard Mark II. She was well-known for her achievements and for pioneering early software development.
Poor Mr Mothy.
But on the upside, Mr Mothy’s demise has afforded him infamy for the last 80 years.
In one of my other articles I’ve talked about the importance of understanding bugs and how to go about debugging, but it’s not necessarily the fluttering-mothy sort of bug that I’m talking about in there.