Thomas Edison was an early adopter of the word "Bug". In an 1878 letter, he used the term to refer to a technological glitch.
Edison was focused on improving the telephone, a job he took on for Western Union, which was eager to rival Alexander Graham Bell’s new communications company. Edison wrote to William Orton, Western Union’s president, updating him on a conversation they’d had in person about a new telephone design:
“You were partly correct, I did find a ‘bug’ in my apparatus, but it was not in the telephone proper. It was of the genus ‘callbellum.’ The insect appears to find conditions for its existence in all call apparatus of telephones.”
This letter, at auction next week at Swann Galleries, is one of the earliest examples of this use of “bug,” to describe a problem with technology.