[Ads-l] Question About Grace Murray Hopper As Word-Coiner

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Tue Feb 14 21:40:23 EST 2017


The original bug in the software was a termite which bit a hole in one of the
punchcards employed in Charles Babbage's Difference Engine in the early 19thC.
 The insect was called Glitch.

Thus the line in the song:  "There's a glitch in my software, dear Liza, dear
Liza ..."

... and let's not even get started on delousing ...

RH 

> 
>     On 15 February 2017 at 02:13 Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
> 
> 
>     I would say that any computer that is programmable has software, whether
> or not it uses an "internally stored program".   And surely punched paper tape
> is softer than relays.
> 
>     Joel
> 
> 
>     From: James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM>
>     To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>     Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 7:49 PM
>     Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Question About Grace Murray Hopper As Word-Coiner
> 
>     On Mon, 13 Feb 2017 18:34:19 +0000 Peter Reitan <pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM>
> wrote:
> 
>     <quote>My sense is that it would depend on whether she used "bug" to refer
> to a
>     problem in the hardware (which would be merely an example of an earlier
>     engineering use) or to a problem with the software, which would seem
>     more like something new and different.</quote>
> 
>     in response to Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU> post Monday, February
> 13, 2017 10:16 AM reading:
> 
>     <quote>If one considers the specific usage of "bug" applied to computers
> as an important subsense of the word, as opposed to merely an example of the
> broader engineering usage, then Hopper may reasonably be considered as the
> coiner of that subsense.</quote>
> 
>     My response:
>     This was definitely a hardware bug.  "Software" refers to a program stored
> within the memory (RAM) of a computer, and the first computer to have an
> internally stored program did not become operational until 1948.  Hence I
> would say that Hopper was using the existing subsense meaning an "engineering
> problem" rather than creating a new subsense.
> 
>     A simpler way of looking at this:  Hopper, rather than coining a new term,
> was making a pun on an existing term.
> 
>     This is not the only pun perpetrated by Hopper.  In the 1950's she worked
> on developing a computer language for scientific and engineering calculations.
>  The name she gave this language?  "Math-Matic".
> 
>     - Jim Landau
> 
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