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Bugs that buzzed a lot

Bugs that buzzed a lot

Apr 12 2024

A real bug, a bug in the code, or distractions can all affect your project and lead to many different consequences. In this article, we've collected a number of notorious and fascinating bugs. Let's learn from other people's mistakes!



Anyone can make a mistake. It's a normal part of life. That would be fine, but there are some mistakes that have become notorious and have left their mark in the history of the Internet forever. Today, we will talk about such mistakes, or rather bugs that led to all kinds of consequences.

A real bug

Do you remember the story of the very first bug? On September 9, 1947, Mark II computer operators found something strange. That something was a moth. The story goes like this: the legendary Grace Hopper, known as "Amazing Grace" and "Grandma COBOL", has found an insect stuck between relay contacts in the Relay N70 on the Panel F.

So, something similar happened in 2023.

The experts at TechTuber NorthWestRepair shared a video on their channel where they tried to find the reason why the NVIDIA RTX 4090 Founders Edition graphics card didn't work. Its owner said it was showing "signs of life", but there was no image on the monitor.

The video card service began with a short circuit check and voltage measurement, followed by a microscope check for defects. The check revealed a malfunction in the graphics processor. They decided to take it off and discovered a real "bug". It was a fly.


After the cleanup, testing showed that the video card began to operate properly.

Copy-paste that sabotaged spaceflight

This is a story about an error that cost an estimated seven billion dollars and 10 years of work. That was the cost of development for the Ariane 5 space launch vehicle.

Ariane 5 was a European single-use launch vehicle. It was designed to launch medium and heavy spacecraft to Earth orbit. The creation of the vehicle involved approximately one thousand manufacturing companies. Everything was going well, but not more than 40 seconds after the launch, the rocket exploded. It happened on June 4, 1996.

At an altitude of 4,000 meters, Ariane 5 veered off its flight path and self-destructed. On June 13, 1996, a special committee began investigating the crash. On July 19th, they released a detailed report on the accident.

Long story short, the error was on the developers' part. They copypasted the code from the control program of an earlier rocket model that had flown successfully more than a hundred times. However, they didn't consider the fact that Ariane 4 was flying on a different trajectory and at a different horizontal speed.


A fragment of rocket code that contains an error.

To learn more about this case, you can read the "A space error: 370.000.000 $ for an integer overflow" article.

"Cupertino with our Italian comrades proved to be very fruitful"

We all have to deal with autocorrection a lot when we write messages to our family, friends, and co-workers. Sometimes it helps us avoid spelling mistakes, but other times it doesn't work the way it's supposed to. Here's a story about a not-so-successful but amusing autocorrect case.

You're surely familiar with the word "cooperation". The English language rules give another variant for spelling this word as "co-operation".

However, many dictionaries in early spell-checking systems, such as Microsoft Word, didn't have "cooperation" in the list of correct words. It would be fine if the smart system suggested replacing this option with a hyphenated one. Although, it may come as a surprise to you that it suggested replacing the word with "Cupertino", which is the name of a city in California.


That's why there are still many documents in the archives of NATO, the UN, and other organizations that contain the word "Cupertino" instead of "cooperation".

Here's one of such examples: "Cupertino with our Italian comrades proved to be very fruitful."

Black Monday

No, it has nothing to do with Black Friday and marketplace sales. This is the day the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced its biggest drop.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is one of several stock market indexes created by the editor of the Wall Street Journal and co-founder of Dow Jones & Company. It includes the stock prices of the 30 largest American companies, such as Apple, Coca-Cola, and Intel.

In early October 1987, the index began to decline. Several events have been cited as potential causes: the military escalation in the Persian Gulf area, the unfortunate news about the health of the First Lady Nancy Reagan, West Germany and Japan tightening the tax laws, etc.

And so, on October 19, 1987, Black Monday happened.


This is what an investor's Black Monday looks like. Screenshot source: Ycharts.

It was the biggest crash that affected not only the USA but also other countries such as Australia, Canada, the UK, etc.

After that day, the crash was blamed directly on the developers. Although, experts still argue about its true causes.

However, according to the official version, program trading error led to the crisis. The thing is that a special program automatically made deals, so that investors didn't have to constantly monitor financial quotes and manually perform all operations. The machines were guided by the market movements: Indexes go up — buy, they go down — sell.

When the market shook, the machines simultaneously began selling millions of dollars worth of stock. But there was no one to buy them, so the program lowered the price even further. In just a day, the U.S. stock market lost about $500 billion.

However, there were some positive outcomes to the story. For example, regulators overhauled trade-clearing protocols. They limited the types of program trading that overwhelmed traders. They also developed a new regulatory process that temporarily halts trading in cases of sharp index fluctuations. The institution of market makers has been developed.

A bit of crime

In the now distant year of 2015, there was a failure that resulted in the early release of 3,200 inmates from prisons in Washington, D.C., USA. In fact, the issue has been present in the system since 2002.

The computer system responsible for calculating inmates' time in prison and their "bonuses" for good behavior was malfunctioning. As a result, the inmates were released approximately 49 days early due to the program failure. In the end, the decision was made to return some inmates to prison anyway, and others were sent to penal labor.


What conclusions can we draw from this story? Firstly, this is yet another example of how even a small error in the code can have serious consequences. Secondly, in the pursuit of automating processes, one shouldn't forget about testing them.

Youngest hacker in history

It's common for parents to enable parental controls on their devices when they have young children. Video game consoles are no exception. However, history knows of a child who managed to log into his father's account on the Xbox Live service.


This gifted boy was Kristoffer Von Hassel from San Diego. So, how did he manage to hack into his father Robert's account? After unsuccessfully trying to guess a password, he simply pressed the space bar a few times and then hit Enter. And voila! He managed to get into his father's account.

Kristoffer didn't confess immediately. His father, Robert, worked in information security. Fascinated by his son's discovery, he sent the report directly to Microsoft. The company has acknowledged the vulnerability and fixed it.

Don't let bugs ruin your project!

As we can see from the examples above, even one badly written line of code can have unfortunate and sometimes very serious consequences. Although, even real bugs (flies, for example :)) can mess things up from time to time. Fortunately, this happens rarely.

One of the ways to create better and more secure code is to use static analyzers such as PVS-Studio. The tool provides code analysis for the C, C++, C#, and Java programming languages.

Visit our blog, where we regularly post articles about writing high-quality, clean code. You can also follow us on our social media channels for interesting news and cool activities:



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