May 9, 2006

The First Bug Report - September 9, 1947

While it doesn't depict a software bug, I ran across this photo and article in Wikipedia, and thought it was interesting:

The First "Computer Bug"

Moth found trapped between points at Relay # 70, Panel F, of the Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator while it was being tested at Harvard University, 9 September 1947.

The operators affixed the moth to the computer log, with the entry: "First actual case of bug being found". They put out the word that they had "debugged" the machine, thus popularizing the term "debugging a computer program" (although the term "bug" had been in use for many years previously by engineers to indicate an indefinite problem).

In 1988, the log, with the moth still taped by the entry, was in the Naval Surface Warfare Center Computer Museum at Dahlgren, Virginia. In 1994 the logbook (with moth still attached) was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution, and is in the collection of the National Museum of American History (where more photos can be seen online under "Object ID 1994.0191.01".

(Admiral Grace Hopper received an honorary Doctorate during my college graduation.  She loved to tell this story.)