10 of the Most Epic Software Errors

Software are designed by humans and they sometimes contain errors that can be either due to misinterpretation of the problem, a bad design or simply due to human error. Whereas some errors are small inconveniences that can be overlooked but there are also some great errors that can even affect millions of people. Below is the list of 10 such epic software errors that have been created a fuss among people.

10. Therac-25


Therac-25 was a device which was used for the administration of radiation therapy for cancer patients. The machines used two modes of operation. One of them was to concentrate the electron beam of high energy at target which converts the beam into X-rays which was passed into the patients. The error was an arithmetic overflow in this mechanism and the high energy beams was targeted directly into the patients which caused the deaths of 4 patients during 1985-1987.

9. Undetected Hole in Ozone Layer

Undetected Hole in Ozone Layer

The incident of undetected hole in the ozone layer was not very famous. The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica remain undetected for a very long time because of the error in the software which was used by NASA for data analysis. This error was due to the fact that the software was designed to ignore the values that deviate greatly form the measurements expected. The software was used from 1978-1985.

8. WW3 1980

WW3 1980

A biggest mistake was done by NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command). The software reported that United States is under attack in 1980. The problem was caused by a faulty circuit. Again in 1893, incoming missiles into the US territory was reported by a Soviet satellite. But the in charge officer taken it as a false alarm and didn’t took any action which would destroy half the world otherwise.

7. USS Yorktown Incident

USS Yorktown Incident

Divide by zero is always a controversial calculation and a major software error that causes malfunctioning. An embarrassing incident occurs with the USS Yorktown who faced a complete failure of propulsion system. The system remained dead for three hours under water because some crew member typed “0” into DBMS which then used into division by the system.

6. Trans-Siberian Gas Pipeline Explosion

Trans-Siberian Gas Pipeline Explosion

This incident was happened because of deliberately introduced bug into the software which would have never been happened. During the Cold War between Russia and US, the CIA deliberately placed bugs into the software that was supposed to be used for controlling the Trans-Siberian gas pipeline. This malfunctioning causes the largest non-nuclear explosion which was even seen from space. The incident took place in 1982.

5. Cold War Missile Crisis

Cold War Missile Crisis

On 26th September 1983, Soviet Union, an early nuclear warning system, reported twice that the five Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles from the US basis were launched which was a false alarm because of software error and was identified by Stanislav Petrov. This incident could even result in the nuclear war killing hundreds of people if not identified in time. The error was because the software picked the sun’s reflection among the clouds and produce false alarm.

4. Sony BMG CD Copy Protection

Sony BMG CD Copy Protection

Sony BGM took a step to protect the copy of CD from piracy in 2005. These CDs installed rootkits in the computer whenever tried to play on Windows computer which is a software that hides deep into the system and alters functionality. The intention was to protect the CDs from converting into software but because while hiding itself from the user it also enabled many viruses which caused a great fuss at that time among the users.

3. Patriot Missile Bug

Patriot Missile Bug

Patriot Missile System was deployed as a defense against missiles and aircrafts during Operation Desert Shield. There was an error in the software according to which the clock drift further and further for the time the system is running affecting the prediction of the time and location of missile killing 28 US soldiers and 98 injured.

2. Millennium Bug

Millennium Bug

The Millennium Bug, also known as the Y2K bug, was one of the major problem which affected both digital and non-digital data storage situations which was caused because of the practice of trimming a four-digit year into two digits which made the year 2000 indistinguishable from the year 1900 because of the trimming of “00” of both the years. This error affected the dates and the data recording.

1. Year 2038

Year 2038

The UNIX based operating systems handles dates by counting seconds a date is from 01/01/1997 which is stored in the computers as a 32-bit signed integer. Now the problem is, 32-bit signed integer have the limit of 2147483647 which can only calculates date up to January 2038 after which we are going to face problems regarding date calculation in digital systems using UNIX.

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