If you’ve ever described your computer as having “a bug,” you have computer programmer Grace Hopper to thank.
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates what would have been the 107th birthday of the computer programmer, who is credited with creating COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language), the program that allows computer to communicate through language as well as numbers.
But for the game show enthusiast, the more interesting fact may be her coining of the “bug” term. According to Time magazine from 1984, “In August 1945, while she and some associates were working at Harvard on an experimental machine called the Mark I, a circuit malfunctioned. A researcher using tweezers located and removed the problem: a 2-in. long moth. Hopper taped the offending insect into her logbook. Says she: ‘From then on, when anything went wrong with a computer, we said it had bugs in it.’”
Hopper, also a Navy Rear Admiral and for quite some time the oldest woman serving in the military, is depicted on today’s Google homepage as computing her own age on a giant mainframe. She’d likely be pleased by the posthumous recognition — she was a celebrity of sorts at the end of her life, even appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman. Watch the appearance below: