Welcome to the Software Bug Stories podcast. Real bug stories written by software engineers, testers and developers!
Over time, software applications have increasingly become necessities in our lives, and their failure can result in catastrophic consequences for economies – even on an international level. Software failures cost the global economy millions of dollars annually. Tune in every week!
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The Y2K Bug
On December 31, 1999, humanity was preparing to welcome not just a new year, but also a new century and millennium. Amidst many apocalyptic and catastrophic predictions, the world witnessed widespread concern about the Y2K bug, also known as "2000,” which was a computer error caused by the habit of omitting the century (e.g., “19”) when programming the date, assuming that the software would only be in operation between 1900 and 1999.
Failure of Patriot missile defense during the Gulf War
The Gulf War was a war fought by a United Nations-sanctioned coalition force of 34 countries, led by the United States, against the Iraqi Republic in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of the State of Kuwait. One of the Patriot missiles located in Dharan (Saudi Arabia) failed to track and intercept an incoming Iraqi Scud missile. it was due to an inaccurate calculation of the time since boot due to computer arithmetic errors.
Incorrect divisions on Intel Pentium processors
If you still have a computer with a Pentium processor at 60, 66, 75, 90, or 100 MHz, you can reproduce this popular error. This bug, also popularly known as the Pentium FDIV bug, was a hardware bug affecting the floating-point unit (FPU) of early Intel Pentium processors. Due to this bug, the processor would return incorrect binary floating-point results when dividing certain pairs of high-precision numbers.
An AT&T network failure
American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) is an American
multinational corporation headquartered in Dallas, Texas; it is one of the
largest telecommunications companies in the world. In January of 1990, a bug in
a new version of the software that controlled AT&T's #4ESS long distance
switches caused these computers to crash when they received a specific message
from other related machines
Kerberos random number generator
Kerberos is a protocol created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used to authenticate two devices that connect to each other. When a bug was discovered in the random number generator of the Netscape web browser, it caused Kerberos to take a closer look at its own random number generator. The flaw in Netscape would allow network users to intercept and decrypt potentially sensitive information such as credit card numbers
Therac-25 medical accelerator
The Therac-25 was a machine built to deliver radiation treatments to cancer patients. This radiation machine was computer-controlled and cost millions of dollars. Unfortunately, there were six accidents involving significant overdoses of radiation to patients resulting in death between 1985 and 1987.