Where does the error word “Bug” come from?

By Sam Deering

I was wondering why we call our programming glitches and errors “a bug”. So I did some quick research…


1. Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison wrote the following words in a letter to an associate in 1878:

It has been just so in all of my inventions. The first step is an intuition, and comes with a burst, then difficulties arise — this thing gives out and [it is] then that “Bugs” — as such little faults and difficulties are called — show themselves and months of intense watching, study and labor are requisite before commercial success or failure is certainly reached.[3]

2. Harvard Grace Hopper

In 1946, when Hopper was released from active duty, she joined the Harvard Faculty at the Computation Laboratory where she continued her work on the Mark II and Mark III. Operators traced an error in the Mark II to a moth trapped in a relay, coining the term bug. This bug was carefully removed and taped to the log book. Stemming from the first bug, today we call errors or glitch’s [sic] in a program a bug.

Other Terms for BUG

Different stages of a “mistake” in the entire cycle may be described by using the following terms:[13]

* Mistake
* Anomaly
* Fault
* Failure
* Error
* Exception
* Crash
* Bug
* Defect
* Incident
* Side Effect


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