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In this modern world, almost all technology users have used a computer. Chances are, most computer users have suffered from a computer bug or virus at a given time. Even in today’s world, computer bugs are nothing less than a pain in our lives.
And it all originated from a single moth getting stuck in one of the most ancient models of the modern computer. This incident occurred almost a century ago. Today, we will go deep into the history of computer bugs. We will also be trying to know which insect inspired the term computer bug.
1. Terminology of the Term “Bug”
Although the term “bug” is commonly used to describe software errors, there have been suggestions to abandon it. One argument is that term “bug” fails to acknowledge that a human has caused the problem and instead made that the defect arise spontaneously.
Consequently, there has been a movement to replace the term “bug” with terms like “defect,” although this shift has had limited success.
Within the realm of computer engineering, the concept of metamorphism of bugs and mistakes pertains to the transformation of a mistake made by an analyst in the early stages of development.
All the while through the entire development of programs, the term mistake has been described through various other terms. These include terms such as mistakes, incidents, glitches, errors, and side effects, and in the modern world most commonly, it’s termed as the term “bug”.
1.1. Prominent Uses of the Term “Bug” Throughout History
- The first pinball game which was called “Baffle Ball” was proclaimed and advertised to be bugs and glitches free.
- During World War 2, the military termed the issues and problems in the equipment as “Bugs”.
- Prominent American writer Issac Asimov wrote a story called “Catch the Rabbit” which was published in 1944. In this, a robot was introduced whose problems were also referred to by the term “Bug”
2. What is a Computer Bug?
Contrary to popular belief, Computer bugs and viruses aren’t nearly the same. A computer virus is the same as a malicious computer program capable of multiplying itself. After multiplying, it can spread across the computer and potentially corrupt some of the files there.
As a result, it has a severe effect on the computer itself.
A computer bug is coined for the time when you run into a fault in the system in the computer’s software or hardware. As a result of this, the computer behaves in unexpected ways and produces undesired results.
In some cases, people have suffered from computer bugs which are another level of dysfunctionality. These bugs may cause the system to crash altogether and prevent the computer from functioning any further.
In this modern world where people are heavily dependent on computers and technology, bugs are truly a source of pain here.
3. Types of Computer Bugs
While using a computer, one may run into various types of bugs. Such as compatibility bugs, security bugs, bugs related to workflow, and so on. Although the number of types of bugs is many, all these bugs can be categorized into two main types. They are given below.
3.1. Hardware Bugs
A defect or flaw in the design of the different physical components i.e. hardware of the computer during the time of manufacture or operation is known as a hardware bug.
In some cases, the bugs in the hardware may lead to severe security compromises. The failure to protect and destroy computer memory may occur, either temporarily or permanently.
3.1.1. Some Examples of Severe Hardware Bugs
- One of the main hardware components is known as the CPU (Central Processing Unit). After its release, the Intel Pentium series CPU encountered two prominent flaws that were identified. One of these was the FDIV bug, which impacted the floating point division and necessitated a recollection of all these CPUs in 1995.
- The other flaw, known as the F00F bug, was discovered in 1997. This bug caused the processor to cease functioning completely. The CPU could only be made stable again until a reboot of the whole system was performed.
So, even after decades of its discovery, hardware bugs still ail us to this very day.
3.2. Software Bugs
A software bug is a term used for faults or mistakes in the software of a computer. This software bug may be unintentionally or intentionally made at the time of the creation of the software. Later during the operation of the software by a user, the bug gets discovered through unexpected results and crashing of the software or the whole system itself.
Software bugs may take birth from mistakes while development or when writing the source code of the software. Besides this, using software that has very high requirements on a low-end computer may also result in a computer bug.
Software that is almost dysfunctional due to having a lot of bugs is known as buggy software. Buggy software may have low dysfunctionalities at first such as not inputting a command properly or lagging in terms of performance. As time goes on, it may become a terrible risk to use it to freeze all actions of the system itself or even allow potential threats to access unauthorized privileges.
3.2.1. Some Examples of Severe Software Bugs
- The most prominent of software bugs in recent history is called the “Year 2000 Bug” or the “Y2K Bug”. The problem was that most computers had severe incompetency when entering the new millennium through the coming of the year 2000.
That is to say, computers termed the dates as the year“19100” instead of the year “2000”. Most of the problems were resolved through a collective effort and they were no severe issues.
- During the 1980s, the code responsible for providing commands to the Therac-25 radiation therapy machine had some severe bugs in it. The bugs directly caused the deaths of the patient.
- The Ariane 5 rocket prototype was destroyed in less than 60 seconds in the year 1996. This was mainly caused due to bugs in the program responsible for the onboard guidance of the rocket. This prototype reportedly cost 1 Billion USD.
4. How to Prevent Computer Bugs
4.1. Repeated Testing While Developing a Computer Program
Developments that are Test-Driven severely reduce the chance of a customer coming in contact with bugs. After severe testing, the bugs are already discovered. This allows the developers to patch up the bugs before handing out the program to users.
Therefore, the likelihood of bugs arising due to inadequate testing is severely reduced by doing constant tests in the programs.
4.2. Transparency in Creating a Computer Program
While computer programming, teamwork, and chemistry are a must in a team. If a developer can’t openly communicate with teammates, they might choose not to disclose bugs found in their tests.
As a result, the developers may distribute the programs without the patching of the bugs. So transparency and clear communication among the developers greatly reduce the arising of a bug during operation.
4.3. Proper Usage of a Computing Device
The responsibility of not letting a computer bug arise lies with the users along with the developers. When operating a program or software, we should make sure that we are meeting the minimum system requirements of the software.
Furthermore, not using the software aggressively is also helpful in not arising computer bugs. Using a computer device properly is crucial to minimize the chances of a bug arising in your system.
4.3.1. Tips on the Proper Usage of a Computer Device
- Install reliable antivirus software and regularly scan your system for malware.
- Be cautious when installing new programs and verify their source.
- Regularly clean up temporary files, browser caches, and cookies to optimize performance.
- Create backups of important data to prevent loss in case of hardware failure.
- Pirating software and programs from piracy sites are thought to be one of the main causes of the frequent rise of bugs these days.
- Lastly, practice safe browsing habits and exercise caution while downloading files, ensuring they are from reputable sources.
Both the developers and users should fulfill their respective duties during the usage and development of computer programs. Then only the gradual reduction of using the term computer bug may be witnessed.
5. Which Insect Inspired the Term Computer Bug
Now, we will be getting into the meat of this article and that is the answer to the question of which insect inspired the term computer bug. But to truly know which insect inspired the term computer bug, we will have to know the history of the term computer bug itself.
5.1. History of Computer Bugs
Today, a single bug can harmfully affect the system and its security. Therefore, we consider “Debugging” i.e. bug management to be one of the most crucial actions in today’s industries.
The modern world got achieved one of its greatest and most glorious achievements which is the Computer in the year 1822. On September 9th, 1947, a computer bug was reported by some computer scientists, over a century after the invention of the first computer. This was the world’s first computer bug.
Thomas Edison informed us about his designs having bugs even in the 1800s. But despite the reports containing the use of the word “Bug” was the earliest, the year 1947 gave us the first computer bug. To this day, even the most modern personal computers and the most powerful supercomputers have been shown to have had bugs in their operations.
The true usage of the term “Computer Bugs” was introduced by a pioneer in Computers and Technology by the name of Grace Hopper.
5.1.1. Grace Hopper, a Pioneer in Terming Computer Bugs
Admiral Grace Hopper was an American who was also a pioneering computer scientist as well as a rear admiral of the US Navy.
Before getting to be a rear admiral, she was at first rejected from the US Navy for being too skinny during World War 2. But she was eventually renamed as a rear admiral in 1985 after she gained the rank of commodore.
Besides being a rear admiral, she was one first programmer of the then supercomputer called Harvard Mark-I computer. Hopper revolutionized programming languages by separating them from particular machines. This propelled Admiral Hopper towards creating COBOL, a long-lasting high-level programming language widely used even today.
Admiral Hopper also made groundbreaking contributions that spawned the theory behind machine-independent programming languages. Within this framework, she crafted FLOW-MATIC, which expanded and evolved into COBOL.
5.1.2. How a Moth Inspired the Term Computer Bug
Grace Hopper used the term bug in a report that was presented to the general public. This report contained the cause of an error in an early model of an electronic computer.
The report said that Admiral Grace Hopper joined the Computation Laboratory of Harvard in 1946. She was then reported to have been released from active duty. There she continued her research of the Mark-II and Mark-III Harvard computers.
The then operators had discovered a malfunction in the operations of the Mark-II. Upon further investigation, the malfunctions were traced to a moth.
This moth was carefully removed and taped to a book containing the logs of the development of the Mark-II and Mark-III. This log book containing the moth is currently securely stored within a glass box in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Although the presence of Hopper was missed during the discovery of the moth, it still became one of her favorite stories to date. Among the operators who discovered the moth, included William Burke, who was familiar with this term related to computers from before.
He was very amused with the fact that this was an actual case of a bug caused by an insect i.e. a bug. To this day, that single moth stemmed all uses of the word computer bug.
With that said, we will hope that you have got the answer as to which insect inspired the term computer bug. A literal moth introduced this phenomenal term to the general public, and it remains truly surprising.
Today, although fast microprocessors and high-end graphics cards allow us to have very little glitches in our technologies, we should always be encouraged to know how these technologies came to be.
In conclusion, this literal moth reminds us of the bizarre history and advancements we made to get to the modern world as we know it today. We hope that this article inspires, you, dear reader, to encounter and resolve any bug that you may come face-to-face with in your life and get to the peak of advancements and success.