On Computer Bugs

Little-known (and apocryphal) trivia: The first recorded computer “bug” was a processing error caused by a dead moth that had been caught inside a relay, blocking the switch.

The insect existed, and in point of fact has been preserved as part of the collection at the National Museum of American History, but the term “bug” was in common use for many years before the moth was found in 1946. Here are some other bugs that have been found and preserved as a part of my own collection:


Heisenbug: Only materializes when you’re not looking for it, but is impossible to recreate under observation.

Bohrbug: A good solid bug. Highly deterministic in behavior and easily found and predicted. Never occurs in real life but frequently seen in the classroom.

Mandelbug: A bug whose causes are so complex that it defies description, much less repair. Pretty, though.

Eulerbug: The bug is real, but the only possible root cause is imaginary. (For you math geeks out there.)

Schrödinbug: This sort of bug is only ever discovered after the programmer realizes that the code never should have worked in the first place.

Hindenbug: When discovered, it’s already too late. If the program is the only thing that blows up you’re lucky. Duck for cover and pray.

Eugenbug: This bug was easy enough to fix, but it seems it was tied to this really huge monster bug that’s now out to raid your merchant shipping. (See Bismarckbug)

Feature: Any bug that cannot be easily fixed.

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