bugs, glitches and malfunctions didn’t originate in the computer industry

Quoting from Bob Cringley’s post:

— the origin of the term “bug,” referring to a problem with computer hardware or software. The story I originally heard directly from the late Grace Hopper, the mother of COBOL, was that a malfunction in the Mark II computer at Harvard in 1947 was traced to a dead moth that in its last living act had shorted out a circuit card. They taped the moth carcass in the computer logbook and history was made. Only it wasn’t, as I realized this week while reading the 1932 Flying and Glider Manual published back then by Modern Mechanics magazine.

“Once you have built your sportplane,” wrote the editor, identified only as Andy, “it must be test flown. If you have already taken flying lessons, you can hop it yourself — if not, entrust the job to a competent pilot. He’ll put it through its paces and find out if there are any ‘bugs’ that need correcting before the plane goes into active service.”

So much for Grace Hopper’s version of the story.

It turns out that “bug” was a common term for hardware glitches and dates back to the 19th century and possibly before. Edison used the term in a letter he wrote in 1878. This is no earthshaking news, of course, but simply reminds me how self-centered we are as an industry and there really isn’t much that’s truly new.

He’s referring to the computer industry (and by reference to the software industry) in the last sentence. Hilarious, but true. We really are self-centered. We also think we can solve most problems using software.

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