This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Debugging the Bug

Moth-y

September 9, 1945: First Computer Bug Discovered

The first documented computer “bug” was an actual moth found in a Harvard computer. The computer was “debugged” by removing the moth.

Grace Hopper is forever immortalized in the computer world as the first person to find a bug in a computer system . . . literally!! The bug was a moth in between Relay #70 on Panel “F” of the Harvard Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator.

Harvard Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator

Harvard Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator

From there on end, “Bug” meant a problem in a computer system. I guess once the moth was removed, the word “Debug” was also added. BTW – The relay functioned properly after the moth was removed.

Collossus Mark I

Colossus Mark I

The bug is taped to their troubleshooting log where it was written, “First actual case of bug being found”. This was not the first use of the term “bug” for computer problems, but this was the first time the term “debug” was used.

first_computer_bugfirstbug_navalhistoricalcenter

Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral. A pioneer in the field, she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. She conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages.

grace-hopper

She is credited with popularizing the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches (motivated by an actual moth removed from the computer). Owing to the breadth of her accomplishments and her naval rank, she is sometimes referred to as “Amazing Grace”.

USS Hopper

USS Hopper

The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70) is named for her, as was the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at NERSC.

Cray XE6

Cray XE6

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