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    Your Elvenar Team

Where bugs come from

ajqtrz

Chef - loquacious Old Dog
The first true computer was called ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) on the grounds of the University of Pennsylvania. Taking up 2 full floors of the building that housed it, and being made of thousands and thousands of vacuum tubes, it gave off a lot of heat and light. The heat meant it had to be kept cool, And, since, general purpose air conditioning was not in the budget (being that there was a war going on they had to make some sacrifices), they used fans to draw in cooler air from outside the building. Which would have worked fine if the building was not as old as it was and the screens on the windows often altogether missing.

So, when ENIAC first started in 1945 it blew up. Well, it popped a bunch of vacuum tubes. Investigation showed that all that, heat, light, and open air drew in the bugs, who loved the vacuum tubes. As the machine cooled at night they settled down only to be jolted awake in the morning when ENIAC was turned on. The result was every morning, the system was "debugged" with a feather duster or two. Then it was turned on. If something happened and things didn't go right they first thing they did was "debug" the system and try again. And that, is, as Paul Harvey would say, "the rest of the story."

AJ

[MOD EDIT] Corrected Title
 
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Iyapo

Personal Conductor
- the late, great Isaac Asimov, used the term in relation to issues with a robot in a 1944 short story entitled, "Catch That Rabbit".

This was later included in his seminal collection of short stores I, Robot. In the story, he wrote, "U.S. Robots had to get the bugs out of the multiple robots, and there were plenty of bugs, and there are always at least half a dozen bugs left for the field-testing."

Or, Thomas Edison who had actual bugs in his devices-
 

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Katwick

Cartographer
Here's the version that I prefer, excerpted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_bug.

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.[13]
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.[14]
Hopper was not present when the bug was found, but it became one of her favorite stories.[15] The date in the log book was September 9, 1947.[16][17][18] The operators who found it, including William "Bill" Burke, later of the Naval Weapons Laboratory, Dahlgren, Virginia,[19] 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.[17]
 
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mucksterme

Oh Wise One
Well, since the first computers were human beings.
It is entirely possible that the first computer bug was a louse.
 

ajqtrz

Chef - loquacious Old Dog
The story as I presented it, was delivered to me via many sources and thus, memory being what it is, I didn't do much "fact checking," on it. However, in looking at the term "bug" as a technical thing, here's this:

"Many people think the term bug was coined by the computer programmer Grace Hopper in the 1940s. However, more than sixty years earlier, Thomas Edison used the term to describe technical problems that occur during the process of innovation. In his 1876 notes on his lighting inventions, one of his entries reads, “Awful lot of bugs still.” Two years later, Edison wrote two letters to the Western Union president, Theodore Puskas, one of which includes this text:

"You were partly correct, I did find a ‘bug’ in my apparatus, but it was not in the telephone proper. It was of the genus ‘callbellum’ The insect appears to find conditions for its existence in all call apparatus of Telephones."

Of course, Edison's "bugs" may be related to his research and be the same phenomena that appeared in Harvard in 1947 when Harper used the term (for the same reasons as the ENIAC did, btw).

And finally, if you wish to think about bugs ruining things, the earliest related quote is from Ecclesiastes where it tells us that a fly in an ointment can make the thing stink and be ruined.

Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour. Ecclesiastes 10:1

So "a fly in ointment" may have come from this and thus, bugs have been a bother to technology for a long, long time.

AND, because it was pointed out to me, the very title of this post has a bug. Katwick reminded me that it's "wHere," not "were," but I have to admit that it would have been unusual for me to make that mistake so all I can figure is that there was a "bug" in my typing. I think it's been corrected even as we speak.

AJ
 
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Iyapo

Personal Conductor
@ajqtrz , I liked your story as it was presented! I enjoyed reading it and shared a few more "bug" origin tales. Thank you for sharing.
 

Katwick

Cartographer
A Biological Gyroscope
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Nephrotoma_guestfalica.jpg
Flying insects, true flies in this case, have some amazing adaptations. If you look closely at this Crane Fly, rather than having four sets of wings you can see that the rearmost set of wings has been replaced by pendulum shaped Halteres. The Halteres beat with the same set of muscles as the wings, BUT rather than supplying motive power they SENSE spatial orientation and movement, due wind currents in particular, and a mechanical linkage deforms the main wing accordingly. Flying insects do not FLAP their wings like birds do. Their muscles deform the thorax, and a lever action moves the wings.

True flies do NOT rely on vision for their orientation in space. There's a local reflex action associated with the halteres that stabilizes the head and eyes. If this thread takes off we can also get into the vision characteristics of compound eyes, which sense relative movement rather than seeing an overall visual field which then must be analyzed to detect motion. Insects are very cool. Without a fly swatter, you don't stand a chance.
 
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ajqtrz

Chef - loquacious Old Dog
A Biological Gyroscope
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Flying insects, true flies in this case, have some amazing adaptations. If you look closely at this Crane Fly, rather than having four sets of wings you can see that the rearmost set of wings has been replaced by pendulum shaped Halteres. The Halteres beat with the same set of muscles as the wings, BUT rather than supplying motive power they SENSE spatial orientation and movement, due wind currents in particular, and a mechanical linkage deforms the main wing accordingly. Flying insects do not FLAP their wings like birds do. Their muscles deform the thorax, and a lever action moves the wings.

True flies do NOT rely on vision for their orientation in space. There's a local reflex action associated with the halteres that stabilizes the head and eyes. If this thread takes off we can also get into the vision characteristics of compound eyes, which sense relative movement rather than seeing an overall visual field which then must be analyzed to detect motion. Insects are very cool. Without a fly swatter, you don't stand a chance.
Glad I read this! Too bad stuff like this will soon be a thing of the past. Anyway, you said that "[f]lying insects do not FLAP their wings like birds do. Their muscles deform the thorax, and a lever action moves the wings." Now, what do you mean by moving the wings? Do they move up and down? If so, isn't that flapping? The mechanism by which they achieve the movement is what's different, not the movement? Or is it? I mean when I look at a bumble bee it's wings appear to be flapping but I could be wrong.

AJ
 

Katwick

Cartographer
Airplanes HAVE flaps on their wings but they don't flap their wings. Flex, yeah.

In general usage flapping implies local muscles and tendons, rather than a ridged structure. I've NEVER heard anybody actually say "The bumblebee was flapping its wings." That's for the birds; insects just buzz.

BUT in birds, breast meat is the main wing muscle, and flags do indeed flap in the wind.

Ain't English wonderful?
 
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ajqtrz

Chef - loquacious Old Dog
Airplanes HAVE flaps on their wings but they don't flap their wings. Flex, yeah.

In general usage flapping implies local muscles and tendons, rather than a ridged structure. I've NEVER heard anybody actually say "The bumblebee was flapping its wings." That's for the birds; insects just buzz.

BUT in birds, breast meat is the main wing muscle, and flags do indeed flap in the wind.

Ain't English wonderful?
I can agree that people, as far as I no, "never" use "flap" to describe what a bee does when it flies. But that doesn't change the definition of "flap" or the mechanics. So, in the end if the motion of the bee's wings moving matches the definition of "to flap" then we COULD say, "the bee flapped it's wings," and be perfectly, grammatically, correct. And yes, English is wonderful!

And this from Bee Mission

"Bumblebees, with few exceptions, flap their wings back and forth, not up and down."

Of course this undermines my statement that flapping is "up and down" but it also shows where somebody describes bees "flapping" their wings.

AJ
 
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