Daily Bread for 9.9.23: Bugs

 Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 74. Sunrise is 6:28 AM and sunset 7:14 PM for 12h 46m 03s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 25.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1947, it’s the first case of a ‘computer bug‘ being found: A moth lodges in a relay of a Harvard Mark II computer at Harvard University:

The term “bug” to describe defects has been a part of engineering jargon since the 1870s and predates electronics and computers; it may have originally been used in hardware engineering to describe mechanical malfunctions. For instance, Thomas Edison wrote in a letter to an associate in 1878:

… difficulties arise—this thing gives out and [it is] then that “Bugs”—as such little faults and difficulties are called—show themselves.

Baffle Ball, the first mechanical pinball game, was advertised as being “free of bugs” in 1931. Problems with military gear during World War II were referred to as bugs (or glitches). In a book published in 1942, Louise Dickinson Rich, speaking of a powered ice cutting machine, said, “Ice sawing was suspended until the creator could be brought in to take the bugs out of his darling.”

Isaac Asimov used the term “bug” to relate to issues with a robot in his short story “Catch That Rabbit“, published in 1944.

The term “bug” was used in an account by computer pioneer Grace Hopper, who publicized the cause of a malfunction in an early electromechanical computer. A typical version of the story is:

In 1946, when Hopper was released from active duty, she joined the Harvard Faculty at the Computation Laboratory where she continued her work on the Mark II and Mark III. Operators traced an error in the Mark II to a moth trapped in a relay, coining the term bug. This bug was carefully removed and taped to the log book. Stemming from the first bug, today we call errors or glitches in a program a bug.

Hopper was not present when the bug was found, but it became one of her favorite stories. The date in the log book was September 9, 1947. The operators who found it, including William “Bill” Burke, later of the Naval Weapons Laboratory, Dahlgren, Virginia, were familiar with the engineering term and amusedly kept the insect with the notation “First actual case of bug being found.” This log book, complete with attached moth, is part of the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

(Citations omitted.) 

 Of all the kinds of bugs, however, this is — without doubt — the most formidable (indeed, unstoppable): 

Dolphin pod performs for beachgoers:

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