Bugs that caused a lot of noise

A real “bug”, a bug in the code or carelessness – all this can affect your project and lead to a variety of consequences. This article contains a number of large-scale and interesting bugs. Time to learn from other people's mistakes!


Everyone can make a mistake. This is a normal phenomenon in our life. And everything would be fine, but there are mistakes that have become large-scale and have forever left their mark on the history of the Internet. Today we will talk about such errors, or rather about bugs that led to a variety of consequences.

Real bug

Remember the story of the very first bug? On September 9, 1947, the operators of the Mark II computer found something interesting. This something is a moth. The story goes that the legendary Grace Hopper, known as “Amazing Grace” and “Grandma COBOL”, discovered an insect between the points on the N70 panel F relay.

So, in 2023, a situation similar to this occurred.

Experts from TechTuber NorthWestRepair shared a video on their channel of how they are trying to find the reason why the NVIDIA RTX 4090 Founders Edition video card is not working. The owner of the video card said that it was showing “signs of life,” but the image was not displayed on the monitor.

Video card repair began with checking for short circuits and measuring voltage, then checking under a microscope for defects. As a result, the test indicated a malfunction of the graphics processor. They decided to remove it and discovered a real “bug” there, namely a fly.

After cleaning, testing showed that the video card began to work normally.

Copy-paste that prevented you from flying into space

This is a story about a mistake, the cost of which can be estimated at seven billion dollars and 10 years of work. After all, that’s exactly how much was spent on developing the Ariane 5 rocket.

The Ariane 5 rocket is a European expendable launch vehicle. It is designed to launch medium or heavy spacecraft into low-Earth orbit. About a thousand industrial firms took part in the creation of the rocket. Everything went well, but less than 40 seconds after takeoff, the rocket exploded. This happened on June 4, 1996.

<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK_yguLapgA >

At an altitude of 4000 meters, Ariane 5 deviated from a straight trajectory and self-destructed. On June 13, 1996, a specially created commission began to investigate the crash, and on July 19, its exhaustive report was made public. report.

In short, the error was on the part of the developers. They copied the code from the control program of a previous rocket model that had successfully taken off more than a hundred times. However, they did not take into account that Ariane 4 was flying along a different trajectory and at a different horizontal speed.

Fragment of rocket code with an error.

You can read more about this case in the note “Space error: $370,000,000 for Integer overflow“.

“Cupertino with our Italian comrades was very fruitful”

We all often encounter auto-correct words while writing messages to our family, friends, and colleagues. Sometimes autocorrect helps you avoid spelling mistakes, but sometimes it doesn't work at all as it should. So this story is connected with a not very successful, but funny case with autocorrect.

If you are learning English, then you are probably familiar with the word “cooperation”. According to the rules of the English language, another spelling of this word looks like this: “co-operation”.

However, in many dictionaries of early spell-checking systems such as Microsoft Word, “cooperation” was not listed as a valid word. And everything would be fine if the smart system suggested replacing this option with the option with a hyphen. But, you'll be surprised, she suggested replacing it with “Cupertino” – the name of a city in California.

Therefore, in the archives of NATO, the UN and other organizations, many documents have been preserved with the word “Cupertino” instead of “cooperation”.

One example: “Cupertino with our Italian comrades was very fruitful.”

Black Monday

No, this is not related to Black Friday and sales on marketplaces. This is the day the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced its biggest drop.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is one of several stock indexes created by the editor of the Wall Street Journal and one of the founders of Dow Jones & Company. It includes the value of shares of 30 of the largest American companies, for example, Apple, Coca-Cola and Intel.

The index began to fall in early October 1987. Various reasons were given: military escalation in the Persian Gulf area, sad news about the health of First Lady Nancy Reagan, tightening of tax laws by West Germany and Japan, etc.

And then Black Monday happened on October 19, 1987.

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

This was the largest collapse that affected not only the United States, but also countries such as Australia, Canada, Great Britain, etc.

After this day, the developers began to blame the fall directly. Although experts are still arguing about its true reasons.

But, according to the official version, a software trading error led to the crisis. The fact is that a special program automatically concluded transactions so that investors did not have to constantly monitor quotes and carry out all operations manually. The machines were guided by market movements: indices rise – we buy, fall – we sell.

When the market swayed, the machines simultaneously began selling millions of dollars worth of stock. But there was no one to buy them, and so the program reduced the price even more. In one day, the American stock market lost about $500 billion.

But there were also positive outcomes to this story. For example, the regulations of the stock exchange were changed. Also limited were those types of software trading that lead to overload of exchange specialists. A procedure was introduced to force trading to stop in case of sharp fluctuations in the index. The institution of market makers has been developed.

A little crime

Back in 2015, there was a glitch that released 3,200 prisoners early from prisons in Washington, USA. In fact, this problem with the system has been going on since 2002.

The computer system that was responsible for calculating prisoners' terms and their “bonuses” for good behavior was not functioning correctly. As a result, prisoners spent an average of 49 days out of jail due to the program. As a result, it was still decided to return some of the convicts to prison, and send others to correctional labor.

What conclusions can we draw from this story? Firstly, this is further proof that even a minor error in program code can lead to serious consequences. Secondly, in pursuit of process automation, do not forget about their testing.

The youngest hacker in history

Most often, when the child is small, parents enable parental controls on their devices. Game consoles are no exception. However, in history there was one child who managed to log into his father’s account on the Xbox Live service.

This gifted boy is Christopher von Hassel from San Diego. How did he manage to hack his father Robert's account? After unsuccessful attempts to guess passwords, he simply pressed the space bar several times, and then pressed Enter. And, lo and behold! He managed to get into his father's account.

Christopher did not immediately admit it. Robert himself worked in the field of information security. He admired his son's discovery and sent the report straight to Microsoft. The company acknowledged the vulnerability and fixed it.

< https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUxgcHydhcI&t=31s >

Let's not let bugs ruin the project!

As we can see from the examples above, even one poorly written line of code can lead to sad and sometimes very large-scale consequences. Although sometimes real bugs (for example, flies :)) can also spoil the work, fortunately this rarely happens.

One way to create better and more reliable code is to use static analyzers such as PVS-Studio. This tool supports code analysis in C, C++, C# and Java.

Check out our blog, where we regularly publish articles on writing high-quality, beautiful code. Interesting news and cool activities await you on our social networks:

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If you want to share this article with an English-speaking audience, please use the translation link: Anastasiya Vorobeva. Bugs that buzzed a lot.

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