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Did You Know? Edison Coined the Term “Bug”

Bugs have plagued technologists for centuries

5 min read
Thomas Edison taking a nap outdoors
Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

THE INSTITUTEAnother in a series of articles that uncover interesting historical, technical, and IEEE-related topics.

Ask someone to identify the first computer bug, and he or she might mention computer programmer Grace Hopper and the dead moth found in a relay of Harvard University’s Mark II electromechanical computer in 1947. After a technician found the moth, Hopper and her staff used the word “bug” to describe the issues that complicated the input of data and the writing, loading, and processing of programs in their Mark I and II computers.

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The Lies that Powered the Invention of Pong

A fake contract masked a design exercise–and started an industry

4 min read
Vertical
Pong arcade game in yellow cabinet containing black and white TV display, two knobs are labeled Player 1 and Player 2, Atari logo visible.
Roger Garfield/Alamy

In 1971 video games were played in computer science laboratories when the professors were not looking—and in very few other places. In 1973 millions of people in the United States and millions of others around the world had seen at least one video game in action. That game was Pong.

Two electrical engineers were responsible for putting this game in the hands of the public—Nolan Bushnell and Allan Alcorn, both of whom, with Ted Dabney, started Atari Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif. Mr. Bushnell told Mr. Alcorn that Atari had a contract from General Electric Co. to design a consumer product. Mr. Bushnell suggested a Ping-Pong game with a ball, two paddles, and a score, that could be played on a television.

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