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How the word "booting up" and "bug" derived?

Sanjeev Kumar Jaiswal's picture

How did the term “Booting up” come from?

The computer term “booting up” comes from the phrase "Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps."

Though “booting up” is a phrase slowly falling out of popular use in favor of more practical terms like “turn on your computer,” it’s still one that everyone knows. A variant of the term, “reboot,” (which again the existence of should be no surprise) was even the title of a children’s show several years back.


By definition, booting up is the first few operations that a computer system performs when the power is switched on. Though today with the new operating systems like Windows 8, many computers are essentially in a perpetual running state, they still require a set of operations in order to properly turn on. The “booting up” process specifically refers to the period of time and series of processes that occur when a computer has been turned on until the computer is ready to perform its functions.

The term derives from the phrase “to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps” because of the paradoxical nature of the startup process. For a computer to run, it needs to load software, but some software must run so that the software can be loaded. Initially, a number of methods were used to get a fragment of software into memory to get the startup process going until the invention of read-only memory could make everything simpler.

How did the term bug derived?

It came from the world’s first computer – the Mark1 – a room size maze of electromechanical circuits built in 1944 in a lab at Harvard University. The computer developed a glitch one day and no one was able to locate the cause.
After hours of searching, a lab assistant finally spotted the problem. It seemed a moth had landed on one of the computer’s circuit boards and shorted it out. From that moment on, computer glitches were referred to as BUGS.

There's more (bug/debug) Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, the first female admiral in the US Navy is also known in the computer world for creating the popular programming language COBOL. She also came up with the term ‘debugging’ after removing a moth from a computer.

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