Why do we call it a “bug”? [Software]

software bug mobilespoon

Software developers are all the same: they all develop perfect code, prefer to start from scratch instead of using someone else’s code, and they all hate bugs.

Bugs are those things that start to show up when real people start using or testing a perfectly well coded software.
Bugs slow down the development and can cause some spaghetti code to be created. They are the enemy


Why do we call software malfunctions “bugs”?

Most people don’t know and don’t really care.

Others (and myself included) think the source for this name was a true bug, an insect, accidently caught inside an early electromechanical computer (back in 1947). The bug, a moth, caused some errors, as the computer started to produce the wrong results. To make a long story short, after a long investigation the engineers opened the computer and found the moth stuck inside the computer.

The First Software Bug Ever - mobilespoon
No one really knows if it was dead or alive, but that was probably the first software moth… err, sorry; bug. 


So is that it?

Not so fast children…

According to my special secret sources (Wikipedia), the word “bug” was used to represent a mechanic glitch long before 1947.

  • Thomas Edison wrote the following words in 1878:
    “It has been just so in all of my inventions. The first step is an intuition, and comes with a burst, then difficulties arise — this thing gives out and [it is] then that "Bugs" — as such little faults and difficulties are called — show themselves and months of intense watching, study and labor are requisite before commercial success or failure is certainly reached.”
  • Baffle Ball, the first mechanical Pinball game was advertised (back in 1931 as being “free of bugs”, which means the terminology existed already.


Some say the word ‘bug’ is short for Bugbear, a dreadful monster.
It was used by people who worked on engineering prototypes which, similar to software engineers, were certain their work is perfect, and therefore problems were due to magical spirits.

The Mobile Spoon