Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 60.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 08:35:40 +0100
From: "Tarvers, Josephine K." <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: 14.0057 first use of "software"
As a student at Penn in the late 70s I was fortunate enough to meet some of
the people responsible for the ENIAC computer--and learn APL, the world's
most useless programming language, but that's another story. The version
told there was that "bug" in the computer sense originated from a literal
circumstance. The ENIAC was in the basement of the Moore School Engineering
Building, a place (still) infested with large cockroaches. They used to get
into the ENIAC housing, where it was warm, and often knocked some of the
vacuum tubes out of sockets, or shorted them out. Hence, when the ENIAC went
down, as it often did, the cause frequently was a literal "bug" in the
system. The well-known engineering slang term was, of course, appropriated
to the circumstance.
The story may just be University legend, or a variation on the Hopper story,
and there's no cockroach taped to a lab log that I know of. But I saw those
cockroaches--some the size of cocktail franks--and I believe it!
Jo Koster Tarvers, Ph.D.
Department of English
Rock Hill, SC 29733-0001
(803) 323-4557; fax (803) 323-4837
"Not the least part of finding the answers is asking the right
From: Humanist Discussion Group
Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2000 4:26 PM
To: Humanist Discussion Group
>From what I found Hopper is associated with the term "Bug" (although the
this term can be traced back to Shakespeare's time):
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Jun 14 2000 - 07:47:25 CUT