September 9: The Computer Bug

MothThe word “bug” had been used an engineering term for unexplainable errors and defects for decades prior to the invention of the computer. However, on this day in 1947, the first real computer bug was discovered: Not a programming error, but an actual insect that was found inside a computer.

Programmers at Harvard University’s Computation Laboratory were working on the Harvard Mark II computer when they noticed there was something amiss with the program they were running. After opening up the computer the operators discovered that the source of the error was  a moth trapped in a relay. The dead moth was removed and placed in the lab’s log book (at right) with a note next to it reading “First actual case of bug being found.” Today, the log book and moth are on display at the  Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D. C.

There’s an old cocktail called Some Moth. I really can’t tell you more about it, except that it’s a Martini variant that appeared in legendary barman Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book, so we know that at least its pedigree is good. The original recipe calls for Plymouth Gin, which is not as dry as most gins.

Some Moth

  • 2/3 ounces Plymouth Gin
  • 1/3 ounces Dry Vermouth
  • 1 dash Absinthe

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a pearl onion.

Tomorrow: “Well my heart’s runnin’ round like a chicken with its head cut off.”

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