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Why Are Computer Errors Called “Bugs”? That’s Not What You Think

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In the common vocabulary, it is called “bug” any computer error that is manifested before our eyes. Why is this word – “insect” – meant to indicate a problem in computer science?

The technicians who were working on the first computer built by the United States Navy, the Harvard Mk II or Aiken Relay Calculator, realized an electrical failure and, opening the control panel of the gears, discovered that a fault This may seem the origin of the word, but it is not.

The use of “bugs” to indicate a technical error or problem precedes the event of almost a century. The first use of the word was traced back to the American inventor Thomas Edison, who wrote in a letter of March 3, 1878 to the president of Western Union William Orton: “You were partly right. I found a “bug” in my apparatus, like “callbellum”.

Edison, for callbellum, did not refer to a kind of insect; “call” refers to a phone call and “bellum” is the Latin word for “war” or “fight,” which implies Edi

In another letter, this time sent to Theodore Puskas, the inventor clarifies the meaning of the term: “the first step is an intuition, and comes with a snap, then the difficulties arise – the “Bugs,” the way

From where Edison himself took the term is not known, although a theory claims that it originated from a common problem that plagued telegraphy systems. The term, however, was formally standardized for the first time by engineer Thomas Sloane in his 1892 Standard Electric Dictionary, which defined a “bug” as “any failure or problem in the connections or operation of an electrical apparatus.”

Later, after several uses of the term (even by Asimov), it was only in 1947 – after the moth accident – that the word became part of the computer field.

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