Nugget of Knowledge: Computer problem ‘bugging’ you?

Thomas Edison used the term "bug" well before computer technology

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Say, does your computer have a bug in it?

Where does that expression come from?

Actually, it is fairly old.

We were using the expression “bugs” inside of mechanical or electrical devices back in World War II. As a matter of fact even before that, Thomas Edison was complaining of bugs in his inventions.

But how about a computer bug?

Well, we could actually pinpoint that to a day in September 1947.

A woman named Grace Hopper, who was working for the United States Navy, was building and testing primitive computers at Harvard University. This was just a few years after the war ended.

One of the computers stopped working, so the experts came in and took it apart and found a bug — a real bug.

A tiny moth was stuck between two relays that they couldn’t close. They carefully took it out and stuck it into their log book — a record of what they did every day. Someone wrote underneath the moth, “We finally found our computer bug, and now this computer is debugged.”

The expression stuck around, and that’s why we say computer bugs.

By the way, the log book that has the moth stuck to it is now in the Smithsonian Museum.

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