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CHIPS Articles: First Computer Bug Discovered

First Computer Bug Discovered
Legacy of Grace Hopper
By CHIPS Magazine - September 9, 2016
On Sept. 9, 1947, Lt.j.g. Grace Murray was working on the Harvard University Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator. While testing Mark II due to a malfunction, a moth was found trapped between points at Relay #70, Panel F on 9 September. The operators removed and affixed the moth to the computer log, with the entry: "First actual case of bug being found." They put out the word that they had "debugged" the machine, thus introducing the term "debugging a computer program."

In 1988, the log, with the moth still taped by the entry, was found in the Naval Surface Warfare Center Computer Museum at Dahlgren, Virginia.

"Amazing Grace"

Leaving active duty after the war’s end, Hopper was a member of the Harvard University faculty and, from 1949, was employed in private industry. She remained in the Naval Reserve attaining the rank of commander before retiring at the end of 1966.

In August 1967, Cmdr. Hopper was recalled to active duty and assigned to the Chief of Naval Operations’ staff as “Director, Navy Programming Languages Group.”

Hopper was promoted to captain in 1973, commodore in 1983, and rear admiral in 1985, a year before she retired from naval service. She remained active in industry and education until her death in 1992.

A pioneer in programming languages and technology development, she was instrumental in bringing computer technology to Navy desktops and individuals. Hopper had an uncanny ability to predict the IT trends of the future. Many of her predictions came true during her lifetime as industry built more powerful, more compact machines. Some of her more innovative ideas included using computers for predicting weather patterns and ocean waves, tracking the life cycle of crop eating locusts, and managing water reserves.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan awarded Hopper the prestigious National Medal of Technology at a ceremony in the White House. But Hopper considered her highest award to have been "the privilege and honor of serving very proudly in the United States Navy."

The USS Hopper (DDG 70) is named in her honor.

For more information about Hopper, visit the Naval History and Heritage Command website: www.history.navy.mil/, or see the CHIPS January-March 2012 edition at www.doncio.navy.mil/chips/Issue.aspx?ID=41.

U.S. Naval Historical Center photograph, courtesy of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, Va., 1988.
U.S. Naval Historical Center photograph, courtesy of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, Va., 1988.

Commemorative issue of CHIPS in celebration of the legacy of Rear Adm. Grace Hopper.
Commemorative issue of CHIPS in celebration of the legacy of Rear Adm. Grace Hopper.
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