trigonomical

3

The First Computer Bug,

The Harvard Mark II was truly a wonder of the age.  Built in 1947 during the pioneering age of electronic computers, the Harvard Mark II was a calculator that could perform almost any function.  It could not only add, subtract, multiply, and divide, but also calculate reciprocals, square roots, logarithms, exponentials, and some trigonomic functions.  Essentially it could do almost everything a modern scientific calculator could do today, except it was about the size of a 55 foot long library bookshelf.  

One of the developers of the Harvard Mark II was a Navy Officer and Defense Department employee Dr. Grace Hopper.  Hopper was known for many accomplishments in her career, among them being among the first women to obtain the rank of admiral in the US Navy.  However in 1947 Dr. Hopper was an engineer on the Harvard Mark II project.  Upon entering a set of calculations the machine sputtered and refused to spit out a correct answer, it was obvious that something was wrong.  After a thorough examinations of the computer’s mainframes and hardware, the cause of the problem was found.  In between relay #70 in panel F, a moth settled and died.  Dr. Hopper removed the moth and taped it in the log book noting, “first actual case of a bug being found.”  Word was spread that the Harvard Mark II had been “debugged”, and ever since the words “bug and debug” have become common words in computer lexicon.