16 Mar 2008

How old is the term ‘bug’?

Robert X. Cringely, my favorite tech pundit, had an interesting aside in this week’s column (which is otherwise about Apple and Blu-Ray). He ran across a use of the term ‘bug’ to mean a glitch in a technical system in a magazine article from the 1930s. I found this fascinating, since we always assume “we” invented the term when computers came along. He closes with this:

It turns out that “bug” was a common term for hardware glitches and dates back to the 19th century and possibly before. Edison used the term in a letter he wrote in 1878. This is no earthshaking news, of course, but simply reminds me how self-centered we are as an industry and there really isn’t much that’s truly new.

Read the full article.