Inside money, markets, and Big Tech

This article was published on November 20, 2008


    The World’s First Computer Bug

    The World’s First Computer Bug
    Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
    Story by

    Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

    CEO and co-founder, TNW

    Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and pr.co. Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

    This morning my iPhone crashed. Must have been a bug. But what is a ‘Bug’ really? Why do we call programming errors ‘Bugs’?

    Apparently we call them bugs because Grace Hopper found the first computer “bug”: a moth stuck between the relays on the Harvard Mark II on September 9, 1945. These early computers were attracting lost of moths who got stuck between the light-bulbs inside the machines. At times there were so many relays malfunctioning that they had a full time bulb changer working to fix find all the ‘Bugs’ stuck between relays.

    Hopper created the first compiler for a computer programming language and worked on the development of COBOL, one of the earliest high-level programming languages that allowed programmers to use words instead of machine codes.

    Grace pasted the actual bug in her log, as you can see above, as the “first actual case of bug being found.” The term “bug” had meant a computer error beforehand but it became a popular term after Grace found an actual bug.

    Besides being credited with finding he first real computer bug Grace is also known as the first person to say the now famous line:

    It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.

    Found in a post titled “The Wonderful World of Early Computing” over at Neatorama.