Monday, September 27

This was the first computer bug recorded in history | Digital Trends Spanish

On September 9, 1947, the first bug in a computer. Today we are used to the existence of bugs, or errors, in any computer program: from operating systems such as Windows to applications for telephones, video games or the website itself.

However, the first bug history’s computer scientist had to do with exactly what the word bug: in Spanish, a bug.

Exactly 74 years ago, someone from a team of scientists at Harvard University in Massachusetts, United States, wrote a note in the use log of the Mark II computer, which was basically a giant calculator.

The note in question was very simple and was marked at 3:45 pm: “First real case of a bug found ”, reads the registry, along with a sample of the specimen.

What had actually happened is that a moth, a real moth, was inside the Mark II circuitry. And he not only lived in the device, but was the cause of the computer generating problems of various kinds in its operation; literally a bug causing errors in a computer.

The engineers in charge of the use of the Mark II discovered that the moth was trapped in a very particular circuit: the 70 relay of Panel F, as the note indicates. And as proof of the event, they taped the corpse of the moth onto the note, in what would become the first exact and literal record of a bug, that would go down in history.

How did a moth get into the circuitry? According to Grace Hopper, one of the engineers part of the team that operated the Mark II, someone during the night shift left a window open in the room where the computer was housed. Because of this, the lights attracted the attention of the moth, which ended its days inside the machine.

Grace Hopper, engineer who developed the COBOL language.

Now, it should be noted that it was not the Mark II engineers and operators who coined the term bug for posterity. This would occur over the years, as computer programs became more complex and made errors in their operation more frequent.

But without a doubt, the moth incident was the origin of the reference to these software bugs as bugs. And towards the end of the 70s, there were timid attempts to change the term: however, already in those years the concept of bug it was so ingrained in a computer problem that such attempts at change failed.

Several decades before the moth inside the Mark II computer, in 1878, Thomas Alva Edison revealed in a letter that one of his telephones had malfunctions. Such problems were also due to a bug: an insect that, according to Edison, “found good conditions for its existence inside the telephone.”

Although it was not a bug computer science proper, this is yet another proof that phones and computers were always meant to go hand in hand. Even with the bugs.

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