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History's Most Awful Software Bugs

By SiliconIndia   |  
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Bangalore: The impact of software bugs over the past has not only been detrimental but also costs the testing industry millions. Testers work tirelessly to ensure that the software is free from bugs and other errors. However, few bugs manage go undetected.

Let us have a look at some of the world’s worst software bugs as highlighted by and

On January 15, 1990, AT&T long distance network crashed. A bug in one of the new software release caused the systems to crash when they receive a particular message. The crash in one system caused a cascading failure to the other systems.

The Pentium FDIV bug (1993), although it affected few users, it created a nightmare. The bug caused inconsistency of about 0.006% in calculations. When the issue was reported by Professor Thomas Nicely, a professor of mathematics at Lynchburg College, there were around 3 to 5 million defective chips in circulation. Intel had to replace the chips and this cost Intel $475 million.

Ariane 5 Flight 501 on June 4, 1996 disintegrated 40 seconds after its launch. On Ariane 5, the codes for Ariane 4 rocket was reused. Ariane 5 had faster engines which caused the 64 bit codes to be larger. This caused the flight computer to crash which also led to the crash of the primary computer.

In November 2000, at the National Cancer Institute in Panama City, a therapy planning software miscalculated the amount of dosage of radiation for patients. This resulted in 5 deaths and 20 cases of overdose. The Physicians failed to double check the computer’s calculations and they were convicted with murder.

In 2010, wrong organs were removed from 25 donors in the United Kingdom. This was due to faulty software that was used to upload the donor’s wishes from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

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