Wired recounts History’s Worst Software Bugs, including the “entymology” of the term:
… in 1947 … engineers found a moth in Panel F, Relay #70 of the Harvard Mark 1 system. The computer was running a test of its multiplier and adder when the engineers noticed something was wrong. The moth was trapped, removed and taped into the computer’s logbook with the words: “first actual case of a bug being found.
Also includes nice Flash visuals demonstrating the principles of buffer overflows and race conditions, plus a Blue Screen of Death summary of history’s worst bugs.
I’ve sometimes wondered what the software industry would look like if admins and consultants were able to charge vendors for time spent fixing or working around the fallout from operating system flaws. The industry would certainly evolve with a more sure foot, albeit much more slowly, and it would be a lot harder for big software houses to get rich off code. Still, I’ve felt guilty more than once taking a client’s money after spending two hours fixing a problem resulting from an OS or software flaw, and wished I could forward the invoice on to Redmond.