This is a list of software disasters where bugs had real-world repercussions beyond typical annoyance.
Mariner 1 rocket
Transcription mistake sent rocket off-course
Hartford Coliseum Collapse
CAD software didn’t take into account wet snow
Race condition gave lethal doses of radiation
1983 Soviet early-warning ballistic detection system
Software did not account for false detections from clouds, nearly started WW3
Knight Capital Trading glitch
Insufficient cleanup of program artifacts, lack of testing, and lack of monitoring led to $440 million loss in 30 minutes.
1990 AT&T Outage
Single line of code knocked out a single switch, shuts down national phone network
1991 Patriot system
Miscalculation of trajectory because of rounding error
Pentium FPU (f00f bug)
Floating point instruction halts processor
Cyrix Coma bug
Unprivileged instructions send processor into infinite loop, requiring reboot
64-bit to 16-bit conversion, causing an overflow that knocked out the guidance system. Backup system had identical problem.
Shortening year to two digits causes overflow at turn of century
time_t overflows in year 2038
Mismatch of metric and imperial measurements puts orbiter wildly off-course.
Virtual Case File
Less a case of any one bug, and more program mismanagement. $170 million spent before program scrapped. A case study in why following software engineering best practices matters.