In computing, a bug is an error in the source code that causes a program to produce unexpected results or crash altogether. Computer bugs can affect an application’s performance, so developers need to make sure they are corrected before the software gets sold to customers.
Back when mainframe computers were still state-of-the-art, some programmers kept getting wrong results from their programs. When they checked under the hood, they discovered that a moth got into the circuitry, causing errors in computations. That’s why programming errors are called “bugs.”
Read More about a “Computer Bug”
Bugs can be problematic both in the real world and in computing. Learning more about how to remove or correct them is critical for developers. To know more about computer bugs and how they first came to be, read on.
What Was the First Computer Bug?
The first computer bug was reported on 9 September 1947. It was not a software bug that most of us are familiar with today. The first computer bug was an actual moth that got stuck between the relays of the Harvard Mark II computer, which caused it to malfunction.
At that time, most computer rooms provided warmth for bugs, such as flies and moths. And when the creatures nestled on the computer’s internal components, they shortened circuits that caused the machines to malfunction.
Who Found the First Computer Bug?
Grace Murray Hopper was the one who recorded the first computer bug attributed to a moth, which caused technical issues with the Harvard Mark II computer. The Mark II was one of the earliest computers and performed faster than its predecessor, the Mark I.
While that was not the first time the term “computer bug” was used, Hopper’s discovery was the first actual instance of a bug in a computer. When Hopper’s colleagues at Harvard went on to open several computer hardware to pinpoint the real cause of errors, they found a moth trapped in the computer’s relay. The team had to remove the bug from the device literally. When the group “debugged” the machine, Hopper posted the occurrence in her diary. From then on, the term “computer bug” caught on and remains in use until now.
More than seven decades later, you won’t find actual moths inside a computer. But computer or software bugs still abound.
What Are the Types of Computer Bugs?
Computer bugs, like real-life bugs, come in many forms. Some of the most common are:
- Syntax bugs: These refer to occurrences where a user incorrectly places characters within a command, thus preventing proper command execution.
- Runtime bugs: These cause errors while the program is running. It can be a logic error where the program produces incorrect output. Runtime errors can result when a program tries to call a nonexistent function.
- Logic bugs: These cause errors in script functions. An example would be when a command results in a different function, arriving at the wrong output.
- Arithmetic bugs: These occur due to an integer overflow or underflow and cause an arithmetic operation to result in a numeric value beyond the given range.
- Interfacing bugs: These can happen when an incompatible application programming interface (API), protocol implementation, hardware handling, or any system is connected to a computer.
Other types of computer bugs are team-working, programming, and performance bugs and access violations. Some unusual computer bugs are named after their discoverers, such as Heisenbugs, Bohr bugs, Schroedinbugs, and Mandelbugs.
How Do You Get Rid of Computer Bugs?
While you don’t have to remove real bugs inside your computer hardware today, you may still need to remove a software bug or two to prevent problems and issues. Ridding your computer of the bugs can be done by updating antivirus and antimalware programs.
However, some computer bugs are harder to remove than others. Thankfully, applications such as the Microsoft Malicious Removal Tool (MRT) can get the job done.
How Do You Avoid Software Bugs
There’s no such thing as bug-free software, and as you can imagine, developing a program is not a piece of cake. No matter how tech-savvy a programmer is, a bug can still find a way into his code. A seemingly innocent typo, for instance, can render a software unreliable, or worse, unusable. Runtime errors are just one of the worst effects of an unpatched bug. It’s, therefore, critical to detect and fix bugs before end-users use any software.
Software companies and developers have several tactics to avoid software bugs. For one, programmers are encouraged to test their code as often as possible so they can capture vulnerabilities and fix these immediately. Below are two solutions that manufacturers commonly employ to deal with computer bugs.
Solution #1: Software Testers
Meticulous software testing can lessen the severity of bugs. Although programmers should test their code, it’s vital to bring in a fresh set of eyes. It’s the same with writers—a peer or an editor needs to go over their written outputs so these can be polished. And for this reason, software testers are very much in demand. And the pay is not so bad either. A software tester in the U.S., for instance, can earn between US$45,993 and US$74,935 a year.
Solution #2: Bug Bounty Programs
Several companies and software developers started offering bug bounties for anyone who can detect and report bugs in their products. Most bug bounty hunters, though, are white hat hackers (also known as ethical hackers), and most of the weaknesses they find have ties to cybersecurity. Still, companies with bug bounty programs would appreciate any vulnerability that hunters report. In fact, the rewards offered are quite impressive.
Facebook, for one, rewarded more than US$5 million to 900 bug bounty hunters five years after starting its program. Google also has its own set of bug bounty programs, covering various platforms, including Google Play, YouTube, and Chrome. The tech giant has been rewarding hunters amounts between US$100 and US$20,000, depending on the type of bug they discover.
Since software bugs are both unwanted and unavoidable, even large enterprises are allocating specific budgets for their detection and fix. After all, nobody would want to use buggy software. As such, the computer bug that started with an innocent moth has become a good source of income to thousands of people.