As the handwritten letter slips into oblivion, a New York sale this week offers both style and substance. The neat-as-a-pin handwriting of Thomas Edison reveals the origin of ‘bug’ used to mean a technical hitch. He coined the term in an 1878 letter to Western Union president William Orton, explaining that there would be a delay in the delivery of his phonograph. “I did find a ‘bug’ in my apparatus,” he wrote, “but it was...
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