What is the history of software bug

The worst software bug in history

In this gallery: 2 images

Wired magazine has compiled a list of the ten most serious software bugs of all time from a large number of known and in some cases very dangerous software malfunctions.

In the beginning there was a mariner

The list begins with the Mariner I space probe. A bug in the flight software caused the probe to deviate from its planned orbit. As a result, the developers had to shoot down the Mariner I on July 28, 1962 over the Atlantic.

The largest non-nuclear explosion

In 1982, a bug injected into a Canadian computer system by the CIA caused the largest non-nuclear explosion in human history. The system was supposed to control a trans-Siberian gas pipeline, but was used by the Soviet side to operate industrial espionage.

Deadly radiation therapy

From 1985 to 1987 the medical device for radiation therapy "Therac-25" produced such a high dose of radiation that it was fatal for five patients - several others were seriously injured.

Buffer overflow in Berkley

In 1988 the first Internet worm, the so-called "Morris Worm", wreaked havoc. It infected around 6,000 computers in less than a day using a bug in the Berkley Unix finger daemon that could be used to launch a buffer overflow attack.


A security system baptized "Kerberos" promised to be unbreakable and should change the world. But the developers discovered that between 1988 and 1996 it was possible to bypass the Kerberos authentication with very simple means.


On January 15, 1990, a bug in a new software version that was supposed to control AT&T switches caused the system to paralyze itself. A switch was crashed by a special message and carried away more switches. When a switch in New York broke down one day, 114 more switches followed within a very short time, rebooting themselves every 6 seconds. As a result, 60,000 people were unable to make long distance calls for nine hours. The error was fixed by installing the old software.

Intel and Pentium problems

In 1993, due to a bug, Intel had serious problems with its advertised Pentium processors. Although the error only led to problems for a few users, Intel had to replace the entire CPU tranche - this cost the company around $ 475 million.

The ping of death

In 1995 and 1996, a bug allowed operating systems to crash by sending special ping packets over the Internet. Most often it hit Windows computers, which then showed the famous "Blue Screen of Death". But even Unix and Mac users did not escape this annoyance.

Ariane 5

Another "space bug": This time with the Ariane 5 flight 501. On June 4, 1996, the code that was used and actually designed for the Ariane 4 led to an error in the system's computer. During the first flight the backup computer failed, then the main computer and after 40 seconds the rocket could no longer be controlled.

Cancer therapy

In November 2000, a series of incidents at the National Cancer Institute in Panama City caused a sensation. The therapy planning software used offset itself with the correct dosage of radiation when using radiation therapy. Eight patients died and at least 20 other people suffered serious injuries.

This list is only a selection of many malfunctions and incidents and, as the authors emphasize, it is not an "all-time bad list", but only those errors that are known up to now - more are to be expected, so the few optimistic message. (red)