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Another Thing About Which I Have Been Wrong

by Craig Good

July 21, 2011

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Donate I have long been spreading the story that computer "bugs" got their name from the famous moth that was found between some contacts in an early computer. Today I saw this review of Brain Bugs (which looks like a great book) on Maria Popova's engagingBrain Pickings site. The lead quote got my attention.
"It has been just so in all my inventions. The first step is an intuition " and come with a burst, then difficulties arise. This thing gives out and then that " ‘Bugs’ " as such little faults and difficulties are called." " Thomas Alva Edison
So Edison coined the term "bug"? Well, that made me look up the moth.
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 introducing the term "debugging a computer program".
So they knew what a bug was, and their joke was that this was the first one you could actually touch and tape into a log book. And the term that got coined there was debugging.

Back to Brain Pickings for a moment: If you have FlipBoard on your iPad, tune it in to@brainpicker. You can also just follow her on Twitter. Not everything there is skeptic-related, but enough is about science and the brain that you may really enjoy it.

by Craig Good

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