Bit rot, also known as bit decay, data rot, or data decay, is a colloquial computing term used to describe either a gradual decay of storage media or the degradation of a software program over time. The latter use of the term implies that software can wear out or rust like a physical tool. More commonly, bit rot refers to the decay of physical storage media.
The Jargon File adds:
There actually are physical processes that produce such effects (alpha particles generated by trace radionuclides in ceramic chip packages, for example, can change the contents of a computer memory unpredictably, and various kinds of subtle media failures can corrupt files in mass storage), but they are quite rare (and computers are built with error-detecting circuitry to compensate for them).
When was the term bit rot (or bit-rot or bitrot) coined and by whom?
Edit: And do synonyms such as bit decay, data rot, data decay or software rot predate it?