September 25, 2016

Story of Bug and Debug in Computer Programming

While reading the The Innovators - How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, Chapter 3 deals with the History of Programming.

Most of the programmers find the word "bug" dreadful - as it means the software needs to be reprogrammed as it is not meeting the requirements.

Here's the story of how the term "bug" made its way into Programming.

A Little Background:

One of the initial programmers in the history of Computer Programming was Grace Hopper.

Hopper worked on Mark - I (A Computing Machine) at Harvard University, and later on Mark - II.

She was writing programs for the computing machines and also perfected the practice of subroutines, which is norm now in computer programming. Those were the days when new instructions were submitted via punched paper tape.

The Story of Bug:

Walter Isaacson writes:

In addition, her [Hopper's] crew helped to popularize the terms bug and debugging. The Mark II version of the Harvard Computer was in a building without window screens. One night the machine conked out, and the crew began looking for the problem. They found a moth with a wingspan of four inches that had gotten smashed in one of the electromechanical relays. It was retrieved and pasted into the log book with Scotch tape. "Panel F (moth) in relay," the entry noted. "First actual case of bug being found." From then on, they referred to ferreting out glitches as "debugging the machine."