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h) Compilers and bugs

h) Compilers and bugs

25.03.2019

 

Software for early computers was written in assembly. High-level languages were not invented till the benefits of reusing software across CPUs became greater than the cost of writing a compiler. In the 1950s, machine-independent languages were proposed and compilers developed, the first by Grace Hopper. A US Navy volunteer who had to get an exemption to enlist (she was below the Navy minimum weight of 54 kg), Grace joined the team developing the UNIVAC I, the second commercial computer produced in the US, and by 1952 she had an operational compiler:

"Nobody believed that. I had a running compiler and nobody would touch it. They told me computers could only do arithmetic"

Grace, who went on to become an Admiral, is also famous for popularizing the term "debugging" for fixing computer glitches. She once discovered a moth stuck in a relay and impeding operation, upon whose removal she indicated that they were "debugging" the system. The moth's remains are at the Smithsonian Institution's Nat'l Museum of American History.

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