The Thirteen Greatest Error Messages of All Time

They're rarely helpful. Actually, they usually add insult to injury. But what would computing be without 'em? Herewith, a tribute to a baker's dozen of the best (or is that worst?).

By  |  Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 5:28 am

”To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.” So goes an old quip attributed to Paul Ehrlich. He was right. One of the defining things about computers is that they–or, more specifically, the people who program them–get so many things so very wrong. Hence the need for error messages, which have been around nearly as long as computers themselves..

In theory, error messages should be painful at worst and boring at best. They tend to be cryptic; they rarely offer an apology even when one is due; they like to provide useless information like hexadecimal numbers and to withhold facts that would be useful, like plain-English explanations of how to right want went wrong. In multiple ways, most of them represent technology at its most irritating.

In fact, people have an emotional attachment to many of them–like Proust’s Madeleine, an error message from a machine out of your past can transport you back in time. That’s a big part of why people form clubs to celebrate them, have them tattooed on their person, chronicle them for Wikipedia, and name albums after them. An entire company, the wonderfully-named Errorwear, exists to emblazon the images of such classic errors as the Blue Screen of Death (in four variations!), Guru Meditation, Red Ring of Death, and Sad Mac on T-shirts.

And then there’s this article–my stab at rounding up the major error messages of the past thirty years or so. I ranked them on a variety of factors, including how many people they bedeviled over the years, their aesthetic appeal or lack thereof, and the likelihood that they were notifying you of a genuine computing disaster. Your rankings probably differ from mine, which is why this story ends with a poll on the last page.

Ready? Let’s work through the list, starting with number thirteen and working our way up to the greatest error message of ’em all.

13. Abort, Retry, Fail? (MS-DOS)
In many ways, it remains an error message to judge other error messages by. It’s terse. (Three words.) It’s confusing. (What’s the difference between Abort and Fail?) It could indicate either a minor glitch (you forgot to put a floppy disk in the drive) or catastrophe (your hard drive had died). And by forcing you to choose between three options, none of which is likely to help, it throws the problem back in your face.

It’s Abort, Retry, Fail?–known in earlier incarnations of MS-DOS by the equally uninformative name Abort, Retry, Ignore?. ARF was probably the first error message to become part of the cultural zeitgeist, as witness its use as the title of a long-running PC Magazine column and a 1996 album by UK technopop act White Town. In this post-floppy era, few of us encounter it. But just thinking about the phrase is enough to send me back to the days when I frequently sat at a computer displaying that message, randomly hitting the A, R, and F keys in hopes that something helpful would happen.

12. Guru Meditation (Commodore Amiga)
The Amiga was a famously advanced multimedia computer, considering that it was designed back in the primitive mid-1980s. But its most alarming error message was decidedly minimalist: red text on a black background, dressed up only by a flashing red border. Like many errors, it included some hexadecimal numbers that were meaningless to 99.9999999999999% of folks who encountered them. But it preceded them with the phrase “Guru Meditation.” When I owned an Amiga, I was never sure what that meant; the reference to a state of zen never did a thing to lower my blood pressure. Turns out that it was a self-indulgent reference to a game the Amiga designers used to play with their first product, the Joyboard–an Atari VCS joystick that you stood on. Har, har.

Like Windows’ later Blue Screen of Death, the Guru Meditation had a habit of showing up in the darndest places, thanks to the wide use of Amigas in the broadcasting industry and for other audio/visual tasks. Once I turned on my TV and saw a Guru Meditation onscreen, and reached to reboot my Amiga–until I realized that it wasn’t even the same room. My cable company’s channel guide, it turned out, had crashed.

11. The Red Screen of Death (Windows)
Microsoft’s infamous Screens of Death come in multiple colors? Who knew? According to Wikipedia, some beta versions of Longhorn–the operating system that became Windows Vista–crashed with a full-screen error message that was red rather than the more familiar blue. Wikipedia seems to say that the final version of Vista can die with a red color scheme when the boot loader has problems, too. I’m relieved to say I’ve never encountered that, as far as I can remember.

I do like the idea of an exclusive SoD in a designer color, though. Maybe Microsoft should team with the (Product) Red folks and revive the RSoD as a charitable effort? If I knew that fifty cents went to a worthy cause every time my PC croaked, I’d be at least slightly less apoplectic.

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523 Comments For This Post

  1. Emily Says:

    I once returned two CPUs due to the Post beeps on my system. According to the manufacturer of the motherboard, the set of beeps I was hearing meant a failed CPU. Actually, the RAM was bad and confusing the system into thinking the CPU was bad.

    When I was 5, I did something to my parents brand new ($5000) Macintosh and got sad mac. I thought I'd destroyed the machine and hid under my bed. All they did was eject the floppy I'd left in and kept on going.

  2. Stu Says:

    Exactly what I did to a friends' mac. Most intense memory was thinking I screwed up their computer. Holding a key down while booting fixed the problem

  3. alex Says:

    thanks god you didn't destroy it… I wonder what your parents would do 🙂

  4. Jason Says:

    My favorite error of all time is the Apple II's BASIC error:


    The question mark as the lead-in makes it for me, as if the computer is raising its eyebrow and marveling at my stupidity.

  5. Stefan Says:

    The one I remember most, growing up, was:



    Spit out by my Commodore VIC-20. Good times 🙂

  6. sergio Says:

    What about my favorite BIOS error when a keyboard is not attached to the computer…

    KEYBOARD ERROR: Press any key to continue

  7. Peter Says:

    I got a nice error message

    "You don't exist go away"

    on a Linux machine just after editing the passwd file.

  8. hendry Says:

    I'm offended that PC LOAD LETTER isn't listed.

  9. ArthurT Says:

    We quickly discovered GOMF Get outta my face, and said good-bye to Guru meditation errors. ( then only a Bad-F Line instruction would kill the system ), so Guru errors became fun, and recoverable.

  10. Pembayaran Online Says:

    Don't forget about the Atari ST bombs, with various number of bombs displayed depending on the error or severity.

  11. D. C. Sessions Says:

    Back in the day, my Cadnetix workstation once put up: "We should never get here." That's high on my list of informative and reassuring messages.

    As for the BSOD screensaver, it once went off while I was chairing a meeting with a spreadsheet on projector. Onscreen was the morning's work for about thirty engineers who had flown to Las Vegas to thrash out details of the electrical specs for DDR2 (you may have heard of it.) Needless to say, the room Was Not Happy — until I hit the control key and all was well again. (There's a reason I use Linux on my laptops!)

  12. Aeg servis Says:

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  13. James Says:

    How about Windows 3.1: “TERMINAL APPLICATION ERROR” and an OK button.

    The “OK” button was the insulting part. You just lost your work, OK.

  14. Coutch Says:

    Ever got the ‘Keyboard error. Press F1 to continue’ when a PC boots ? That’s one of my favorites …

  15. prelge Says:

    I'm having that one on my old Dell right now. What error is it about, and how does one solve the problem?

  16. prelge Says:

    Sorry. My message only says "Press F1 to continue" during booting. Not a word about the keyboard, which is attached.

  17. EdK Says:

    Coutch I love that one, as annoying as it was, the irony was very amusing!

  18. DrEnter Says:

    One of my all time favorites, encountered on the original IBM PC (and quite a few other early BIOS implementations) if a keyboard wasn’t connected during boot up:

    Keyboard Not Found!
    Press F1 to continue.

  19. Kiski Says:

    Keyboard not attached… Press F-1 to continue.

  20. SteveL Says:

    From the TOPS-20 Pascal compiler (or was it the linking loader?):

    Heap overruns stack, retry with more core

  21. HPA Says:

    I think the best (or worst) error message came from some versions of Microsoft BASIC:


    Not only does it have the rather pointless question mark at the beginning, but it actually told you to do the same thing that it just complained about over again. Since English is my second language, and I was a kid at the time, I always assumed that I simply must have missed the translation.

  22. John Lamb Says:

    I still get a chuckle from the “Keyboard Error, Press F1 to continue.”

    Usually, the only time I got that error was when the keyboard wasn’t attached.

  23. Tony Says:

    My theory on the twitter FailWhale:

    its not the birds lifting UP the whale, but the birds being dragged down by the load…

    Just a thought.

  24. Jay Says:

    My theory is that Twitter (represented by the birds) is experiencing heavy loads (represented by the whales). Makes sense to me.

  25. Jason Says:

    My favorite was in DEC UNIX/OSF1:

    $ make love
    Don’t know how to make love. STOP.

  26. Jo Says:

    What about:

    Panic! TRAP 11

    See often on PDP-11 Unix version 6 and 7

  27. Grrblt Says:

    Better 404 poetry:

  28. Jack Says:

    I’m offended that PC LOAD LETTER isn’t listed.

  29. Sam Says:

    My personal favorites were from a CAD workstation vendor called Cadnetix in the mid 80’s. They went something like:

    “We should never get here!”

    “Congratulationas, you’re hosed.”

    “Our heads are screwed on backwards.”

  30. Ezekiel Says:

    What a riot! I never worked on a CAD tool; but we used to scatter messages like that around our code in locations that were theoretically unreachable — like the line after a JUMPA ("jump always") instruction in PDP10 assembly language. Never bothered to make the messages useful, because it really shouldn't have been possible for people to see them.

    I especially like your "Congratulations, you're hosed" — reminds me of an old favorite:

    "Now look what you've done!!"

  31. Scott Says:

    I can’t believe they didn’t include the Atari ST bombs. In that the computer/OS had bombed out. It was great because the number of bombs gave you a clue to what had happened.

    Oh wait maybe that’s too helpful, when all the error messages here are useless.

    Still my favourite though.

  32. Juggler314 Says:

    That’s not Times Square in the photo credited to Chad Dickerson, that’s Penn station, more particularly it is the southwest corner of the intersection of 42nd street and 8th avenue. Times square is the next avenue over (intersection of 42nd street, 7th avenue and broadway).

  33. mike Says:

    Nope, that's not Penn Station, but rather its the Port Authority Bus Terminal:

  34. Daniel Says:

    Two of my all-time faves:
    “cannot start: hath the daemon spawn no fire?” (qmail)
    “The instruction at ‘XXXXX’ referenced memory at ‘YYYYY’. The memory could not be “read”‘ (Windows – love how “read” is in quotes)

  35. mike Says:

    Don’t forget about the Atari ST bombs, with various number of bombs displayed depending on the error or severity.

    And the old DEC pdp response to

    help me

    sorry, there is no help for you.

  36. jeffw Says:

    Other error msg:

    I’m pregnant.

  37. juggler314 Says:

    That’s not times square in the photo credited to Chad Dickerson. It’s the Port Authority, particularly the southwest corner of 8th avenue and 42nd street (Times square is one avenue over on 42nd/7th avenue/broadway.

  38. John Says:

    The error that continues to frost my cupcakes keeps occurring on the Clarify web application that I use to search for internal Change Requests. Everytime I see this, I want to smack the developers:

    "Errors have occurred. We won't tell you where or why. Lazy programmers. – Charlie Gibbs"

    The funniest error message that I ever heard about was vanishingly rare, having been created in the Caltech computer center in the early to mid 70's. The TOPS-10 OS running on the DEC PDP-10 machine had been modified by the student operators to emit the error acronym PFDGB upon the occurance of a fatal error. Nobody knew what this meant… BUT, if you went to the terminal room, and searched through the operations manual chained to the desk, in the back, written in PENCIL, was the explanation for the error. Program Fall Down, Go Boom.

    The Firesign Theatre album, "I Think We're All Bozo's on This Bus" was conceived in the Caltech Computing Center, and most, if not all of the ideas came from the PDP-10 and some of the Lisp applications running on it. Eliza was a particular source of inpiration, I think. Later in the decade, Vaxes came along, and rendered the album and their PDP-10 jokes irretrievably obscure. But many of us who were there still remember, and smile.

  39. bob Says:

    no “PC LOAD LETTER”?

  40. hyp3r Says:

    What about “This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shutdown”? When I was a kid I was afraid I had done something wrong and that the cops would be showing up.

  41. Paul Brown Says:

    Many years ago I tried to install a modem program on a Mac. It didn’t work and the error message was: “Installation failed. Something is wrong. Find out what it is, fix it, and try again”.

  42. jd Says:

    A message I got when closing an app

    You can’t close this application due to memory problem
    Please close some application before closing some application

    I never figured out how to close anything before closing it and ended up rebooting

  43. iggyst00ge Says:

    I came back to my office one day with my assistant crying and hysterical. The OS 7.?.? Mac had crashed on her, and instead of the bomb (which would have been bad enough), it played the sound of a car skidding to a stop before crashing.

    Horrible sound. Traumatizing sound. About as far as you can get from the happy smiling Mac and comparatively nonthreatening cartoon bomb.

    So, the Mac car-crash sound gets my vote for scaring the hell out of the people who hear it.

  44. Paul Says:

    What about the predecessor to Windows’s “Unhandled Exception,” the scary “This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down.” Scared the hell out of little kids who suddenly thought they broke the law.

  45. Michael Bolton Says:

    PC LOAD LETTER?! WTF does that mean?

  46. Anonyuser Says:

    The best error message of all: “Keyboard not detected. Press F1 to continue.”

  47. xardoz Says:

    The “check engine” light (sometimes just an icon!) on car dashboards. It can signal anything from a loose gas cap to a thrown rod and it REQUIRES you to either purchase a special decoder gizmo to hook up to your engine, or to pay someone to diagnose it for you.

  48. Nicholas Says:

    I’m glad someone else pointed out the FailWhale. I always assumed the same, after all the service is called “Twitter” which I had always heard used to describe a short chirp from a bird. Hence the twitter “birds” being dragged down by the, oddly happy, FailWhale. Personally I am a big fan of the error message I use at work when they try to access and unapproved website. There is a picture of a kitten shoped over a hubble photo and it says “Space Cat says No. If Space Cat is wrong contact your System Admin so you can explain why you attempted to go to X.” X would be the URL. I love my job.

  49. Yann Vernier Says:

    Actually, DOS error query function has all four options – Abort, Retry, Fail, Ignore – and whatever triggers the message can choose which to present, though one can’t be turned off (I think that’s either Abort or Ignore). Abort kills the program, Retry retries the operation, Fail reports the error to the program, and Ignore simply lies to the program, telling it the operation succeeded. Which is the greater disaster depends on the operation involved.
    As for terse messages, I must say the standard UNIX editor, ed, must take that prize. It only has one error message – “?”.

  50. Nicholas Says:

    Oh and one of our AS/400 Programmers put a register error in that says “Gah, your stupidity! IT BURNS US!”

  51. jd Says:

    for you mainframe kids…

    0c7. data exception. Now THAT’s useful! Not.

  52. David B Says:

    I (and others) would argue that 404 is the most important error message of all time, and the most important contribution that made the web possible. There were other hyperlink systems before that, but people were afraid of linking to remote machines because it might get an error. Embracing and allowing 404 really made the web take off.

  53. N Says:

    What about “?”, the standard error message from ed, “the standard text editor”?

  54. Peet McKimmie Says:

    Another vote here for the seminal:

    “Keyboard not present or not functioning, press F1 to continue.”

    I can’t believe you missed it off the list.

  55. jonathan Says:

    i once got a popup error message from MS Access that said:

    “Error #some-large-number: There is no message for this error”

    I thought that was so existential….

  56. Jecel Assumpção Jr Says:

    The wikipedia article has been corrected – the Sad Mac was already there in 1984. What was introduced in 1987 was the two line hex code shown in your screen capture (originally the code was just one line).

  57. Millard Says:

    I distinctly remember sitting as a lab assistant in one of the Computer Science labs in the mid-90s. We were supposed to watch the syslog to see if anything weird was happening. Suddenly there was a message about the printer (right across from my desk) being on fire. At first I thought it was a joke from one of the sysadmins. Turns out the printer was indeed overheating (though far from catching on fire), but it was still quite a startling message.

  58. rob Says:

    I always enjoyed, on the vintage DEC PDP-8, the message:

    you mispeled a keywurd.

  59. Krreagan Says:

    “ERROR! FAULTY! …must sterilize!… KAboom!”

    A one-time only error message!


  60. wrp103 Says:

    The old original ed editor on Unix had one error message:


    You can type “h” to get the actual text, but the question mark was all that was usually needed.

  61. FoxingDemon Says:

    One of my favourites which I encountered in Win98 is “Cannnot delete file, not enough free space.”

  62. Jay Mumper Says:

    On Radio Shack Model 16, XENIX 3.0, in a really obscure hardware failure condition (the Z80 got back to the main operation dispatch loop with the stack at a different depth than it was on the previous pass), z80ctl would spit out:

    Bugchk: Sckmud
    “Shut her down Scotty, she’s sucking mud again!”

  63. James Says:

    Wot no “Hodie natus est radici frater”?

  64. Kirsten Says:

    my grandmother thought that “illegal operation. divide by 0” was going to bring the cops to her house….

  65. IGnatius T Foobar Says:

    My personal favorite:
    “Keyboard failure. Press F1 to continue.”

  66. Blaine Says:

    General Protection Fault is my favorite from Windows 3.1. As a telephone tech support agent back in the mid 90’s I actually had a customer call and ask for the rank and serial number of this so-called general. I swear to you, the person was serious.


  67. AndyH Says:

    Am I the oldest person here?

    ABEND CODE 804

  68. Richard Says:

    You FORGOT S07C
    cobol mainframe era
    also the
    1D107 error by lUsers

  69. Lashi Says:

    Something I used to see from my students when I was tutoring in CS (and myself sometimes when I was coding):

    Segmentation Fault: Core Dumped

  70. Tagger1948 Says:

    Data General RDOS had a good one–

    “You can’t do that”

    UNIX is rife with them. “Not a typewriter” leaps to mind

  71. Werner Says:

    CKFMT was display nicely green on black in the late eighties on United Airlines ‘Apollo’ reservation system. It meant ‘Check Format’ …

  72. jens Says:

    I Like this one most but not as famous though (kernel panic)

    Shut her down Clancy, she’s pumping mud

  73. JJ Says:

    I always liked “This computer has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down”. My aunt actually thought someone was going to call the authorities…

  74. EricH Says:

    Does anyone else remember

    This comes from the Michigan Terminal System (MTS) linking loader when it couldn’t resolve all the symbols in a program. If you were very lucky you could type something like
    and recover, but generally “CANCEL” was the correct answer.

  75. Spectrum Says:

    Sorry, but you’ve missed the most important of all, at least for people that started using computers when there were no PC’s


    Did you know it?

  76. Dave Says:

    “wrong magic number” – in 1988, working in the dead of night, I was loading BSD 4.3 on a Convex C1 from a reel to reel tape, when I tried booting up the console started spitting out “wrong magic number” over and over, as fast as it could print.
    Calling Convex didn’t help either, but the next day they sent me a new tape. It was much later, looking over even older Unix documentation, that I found that the magic number was the file protection mask (look up chmod).
    I didn’t want to have anything to do with Unix for a long time after that experience.

  77. Troy Heagy Says:


    This error message was near-universal from 1970 to circa 1995. Anybody who ever owned an TRaSh-80, Apple II, Atari 400/800, Commodore, Amiga, MS-DOS, or other platform that used BASIC saw this error frequently.

    It became nicknamed “SYNTAX TERROR” for many frustrated users.

  78. lee Says:

    My favorite is the Mac version of the start up beeps. I had one machine which played a sound like a car crash as it attempted to boot, sometimes. Usually the third time was the charm.

  79. Marc Says:

    Lots of people mention the keyboard error/press F1 to continue, but I personally think that one is pretty good. It only SOUNDS self-contradictory, and it’s actually helpful (unlike most of the errors on the list.)
    It tells you:
    – what’s wrong – the computer won’t go on until you fix the keyboard
    – how to fix it – press F1 as soon as there’s a valid F1 to press.
    Unlike the PS/2 mouse, it’s always been OK to plug/unplug a PC keyboard while the power is on, so the fix is dead easy – unless your keyboard is actually broken, in which case your weren’t going anywhere without a new one anyway.
    If you’re savvy enough to figure out that 0/1 is the power switch, this one shouldn’t have set you back for more than a minute.

    Likewise with “PC LOAD LETTER”. “PC” was the name of the tray that was empty; I’ll freely admit that that’s pretty cryptic. But “LOAD LETTER”? If that doesn’t speak to you, what are you doing with a printer?

  80. EdK Says:

    That's true Marc, however I didn't have a PS/2 Keyboard until my first Pentium, and the 5 pin DIN keyboards required a restart once you got that error. That's why I find that error so funny.

  81. wyvernlord Says:

    A app used in the banking industry gave a nice one to us earlier this year. Windows pop up with simply:

    “An Error has Occured!”

    Really helpful in troubleshooting.

  82. gigabytousai Says:

    My two favorites:
    The oft mentioned “Keyboard not present. Press F1 to continue.” and
    “Cannot copy…The file exists.”

  83. Eddie Pasternak Says:

    Seriously, what compels authors to spread a story like this over FIVE SEPARATE PAGES, requiring users to hit NEXT NEXT NEXT NEXT????? It’s a website, not a book, dude.

  84. Alberto Says:

    My best error was on an HP3000 ~1984, when I submitted a fortran program to the pascal compiler:

    Catastrophic Compiler Error

  85. orclev Says:

    I’m a fan of “Segmentation Fault (Core Dumped)”.

    Good old segfault, you knew you really b0rked something up when that one greeted you mid way through executing something or other. For those on the Windows side of things, this was the UNIX/Linux version of either “This program performed an illegal operation” or “General Protection Fault” depending on which version of Windows you’re talking about.

  86. Jim Says:

    1 – The apple bomb was spoofed in the intro of one of the new mac’s. Apple had a video presentation with music and lots of screen captures flashing by. One of the screen was of a bomb message. The crowd roared when they saw it.
    2 – One of our programmers put in an error message of “Bang – Your Dead”. It was supposed to be impossible to get too. Murphy rules: It happened to a customer in an Oil Refinery. The PRESIDENT of the BIG Oil company complained to our President. That is unprofessional!

  87. Roy Says:

    “Cannot delete file: Access is denied
    There has been a sharing violation.
    The source or destination file may be in use.”

    Would have been so much more helpful if the file itself had been identified.

  88. cg Says:

    I put a warning message into the Myrias parallel C compiler, if you
    attempted “goto hell;”:

    *** cannot goto hell, C already is hell

    Unfortunately, when the compiler was taken over by a new compiler group,
    the message was removed. So, I doubt anyone ever saw it.

  89. Marco Bello Says:

    The one I like the most is the “White Screen of Death” that PHP produces.
    I like it for being so pure, white pure actually.

  90. Yo Says:

    Linux fanboy crap.

  91. losthunderlads Says:

    My favorite is spat out by the editor vi when you’ve garbled a command so badly the program smacks its head and prints:


  92. Azri Says:

    I’ve actually received that “lp0 is on fire” error on one of my Linux systems. Oddly enough, the parallel port on my printer had fried…

  93. Hanzi Muller Says:

    It happened to me, at the end of a day of work, as I tried to save my work on a floppy:

    “Connection to floppy lost.”

  94. bwildrick Says:

    …and Firefox crashed three pages into reading the article. >.<

  95. Drew Eckhardt Says:

    I’ve always had a certain fondness for “Not a typewriter” when inappropriate ioctl calls are made on open unix file descriptors.

  96. Marcus Says:

    I once had some software on a mac (I think it was the anarchy ftp program, but I’m not sure) present me with this error:

    “Some evil bastard moved the damned config file on me”

    I was particularly struck by this because I was working on the machine of the swearingest guy I ever met. I briefly considered the possibility that he had infected his computer with his speech habits.

  97. Dutch Says:

    My favorite was an old C app that crashed with the following message: Error: No error.

  98. Jason Says:

    Still have to say the most common error type is the PEBKaC.

    Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair

  99. Siris Says:

    My favorite error message on early SunOS csh:

    > Gotta Light?
    No Match.

  100. Scott Says:

    You forgot the best error message ever.
    I received this while playing Counter Strike 1.3 on the old hl engine:


    in a popup box.

  101. Eric Says:

    I got a nifty one during the installation of Office 2007 Beat. “The following applications should be closed before continuing the install. (No applications were listed, then) Abort Retry Ignore”

  102. Mike Says:

    How can we forget

    make love
    make.exe: *** No rule to make target `love’. Stop.

    (pasted from DJGPP in windows, but certainly applicable in GNU environments)

  103. Texas Instrument Says:

    Once i tried to resume a ‘screen’ terminal session it responds with

    Suddenly the Dungeon collapses!! – You die…

    and exited.

  104. Steve Says:

    “Who distributes the screensaver? Microsoft–and I’m not sure whether I’m tickled by that, or annoyed that they aren’t taking the whole thing more seriously.”

    In all fairness, the screensaver was developed by Mark Russinovich’s company Sysinternals prior to Microsoft buying the company and all of its software and employing Mark. The Microsoft Sysinternals page is here, with the screensaver under the Misc section:

    The screensaver is actually very clever, it uses the error and bootup screens of the version of Windows you’re actually using, and it uses your actual hardware information to show relevant diagnostic messages during “startup”. It appears as if your computer is in a neverending boot-BSoD-reboot cycle, which lasts until you hit Esc. I had it loaded on my computer at work and came back from lunch more than once to find out that someone, thinking they were being helpful, had shut my computer off by holding down the power button.

  105. James Beam Says:

    1. Who is General Protection Fault and how did he get in my computer?

    2. The mail program in Unix had a “send” command, and its normal response was “mail sent”. But if you used a common typo by issuing the “sned” command, its response was “mail snet”.

  106. JC S Says:

    The first computer error I encountered was on a PDP-8I in 1971.

    “System underflow in user stack”

    I seem to recall the actual error was trying to divide by zero. Things have not improved since.

    Also, I am completely enamoured with the infrequent and puzzling windows dialog box

    “ERROR The previous operation succeeded – OK”

  107. Dale Williams Says:

    The IBM POST was my favorite. The reason I was told for the beeps by some IBM old-timers was that they had this massive typewriter repair force (remember the IBM Selectric) that was about to have nothing to do because of the PC. By having the POST beep codes, the repairman would just look up the meaning it their codebook and replace the necessary parts. Back when I was just starting in IT in the early 80’s, I witnessed IBM typewriter repairmen fix many a PC, XT, AT just based on the beeps. Typewriter repair force is now the PC repair force!

  108. CCPalmer Says:

    IBM JCL processor would issue the following error message (or something close to it – memory failing) when a user requested a SCRATCH tape (a fully writable throwaway tape) for a job step. The JCL wanted a specific spelling, which was limited to 6 characters since a tape VolumeSerial number was that long (VOLSER). Thus:

    “SCRATCH” should be spelled “SCRTCH”

    and your job would abort. Of course, if the JCL processor KNEW what I meant, then why did it have to abort?!?!?

  109. Bruce McIntosh Says:

    While not strictly an error message, on the original pcxt, if you put a floppy in a: and typed format insteat of “format a:” you got the message “format C: press any key to continue” The only solution was to kill the power.

  110. MatD Says:

    On the Beeb, if you tried to begin a BASIC program with a very large line number like this;

    AUTO 10000000

    The error returned simply said:


  111. Citrus Says:

    I still remember the joke, “Who is General Failure, and why is he reading Drive C:?”

  112. worldofcrap Says:

    As a video editor, my all-time favorite error is from Final Cut Pro:
    “General error.”

    Gee, thanks. Thanks a lot. Unfortunately, that’s probably THE most common error message from that (otherwise amazing) program.

  113. frederick Says:

    Once while using Mac OS 9.2, I was trying to open the control panel “Memory” and received the error message:

    “The Application “Memory” could not be opened because there is not enough memory available.”

  114. Rusty Belgrades Says:

    Here are some random Windows messages I thought to be interesting.

  115. detour Says:

    A fun one I got from eclipse the other day: “An internal error occurred while showing an internal error.”

  116. Jim Says:

    Some from the mainframe era.


    [Burroughs 5500 experiencing a kernel crash]


    [G.E. 635 when there was a peripheral error. RATZ was a prompt for
    R – retry or A – abort or T – terminate or Z – go to user-supplied
    error routine. And as with MS DOS, what’s the difference between
    abort and terminate?]

    You have synned and must pay a syn tax [some student-written compiler]

  117. wordcross Says:

    I’ve got a bit of nostalgia for the old “Internal Server Error” encountered on message boards of yore. We used to make up other words to fit the “ISE” acronym like “Internet’s Sort of Empty” or “Isn’t Sarumon Evil?”.

  118. Michael Says:

    Any of the old OS360 system failure codes – nick named SOCK codes. My favourite was S0C7, but S0C1 and S0C4 were common and equally enlightening as well. If I recall correctly: 0C7 was a DATA error; 0C1 was an INSTRUCTION error; and 0C4 was an ADDRESSING error. Details required a full system core dump to guess what the problem actually was.


  119. Brian Says:

    From IBM’s OS/2 Token-ring network driver: “Open error during physical insertion phase”. Boy does THAT sound painful.

  120. Chris Says:

    Why do we continue to perpetuate this myth that Macs are more stable than PCs? It’s simply not true. I’ve used both Mac and PC consistently for many years, and Macs have always been more prone to unexplained crashes and freezes. Even today, when I’ve got both a Vista PC and an OSX Mac sitting on my desk, the Mac is significantly less stable. Am I really that unlucky?

  121. Dan Says:

    On teh IBM 7094 in the early 1960,s a divide by 0 caused an endless microinstruction loop that would ultimately damage the circuitry if left to run for more than about a minute. Therefore, all 7094 sites used a cheap 2-trnsistor AM radio to monnitor the comoputer by listening to the generated noise. When the noise ceased to sound like hash and became a pure tone, a divide by zero was being executed and the operator needed to reboot the machine. That pure tone is the worst error message.

  122. José Says:

    I saw a dialog box with an error in Netscape navigator 3.x. I don’t remember the error message, but the tittle was “Fuck U!”.

  123. Bantolph Says:

    I always love the sick Mac that showed up on the old Macintosh Pluses and SEs if you had a hardware fault. It was the cartoon mac with an ice pack, +’s for eyes, and a thermometer in it’s mouth.

  124. sandman Says:

    Jason – you need an earlier BSD Make.

    At one period this make had a built in rule for the love target.

    In went like this:

    $make love
    Not war?

  125. blc Says:

    My favorite was an old Excel error that read simply “Error: Not Enough!” and had the “Ok” button only. All I could think when I’d see it was, well then, give me some more.

  126. blc Says:

    And for the most childish intentional error award…

    $man woman
    no manual entry for woman

  127. Ian Ferguson Says:

    ‘Syntax Error’ is a far-reaching message omitted from this list – I’ve seen it on many platforms. As a child, I probably learned the meaning of the word ‘syntax’ from it – I certainly remember not being sure what the error message meant in terms of English, but understanding what to do about it.

    The one I voted for – although I can’t say it’s my ‘favourite’ – had to be Abort, Retry, Ignore. I remember screaming in pain many times when encountering that one. 🙁

  128. mancfrank Says:

    What? Macs crash?
    Everything I’ve ever heard says Macs don’t crash – has someone been telling me lies?

  129. pgraham Says:

    Here’s some error message poetry:

    I am unable to complete my task
    I tried to do what you have asked
    But it will not come to pass

    Asked again, the same result
    I will not make it past this halt
    Maybe it was a segment fault
    But you have to see it’s not my fault

    I’ve done as I’ve been told to do
    When asked to do what you’ve asked me to
    I have no choice, about what to do
    I simply do when instructed to

    It’s the person that’s in charge of me
    That’s lacking in some faculty
    For they have not made into me
    What you ask, a capability

  130. m4 Says:

    University of Minnesota Fortran compiler, Mid-70’s, called mnf had an extremely rememberable error message (for any mistake in syntax) of “?”

    No line number, character position, nothing. Just a question mark.

    How do you find the problem? Binary-chop compilation of the program …

  131. Dunx Says:

    My favourite error messages:

    “ACD file is no set, bozo” – error message which really shouldn’t have shown up in a customer demo, especially when the program was just starting.

    “There is something wrong with CMS or something it calls” – DEC VAX CMS failing badly.

    Also… [Marc] “LOAD LETTER” might be useful in the States, but it is about as helpful as a not very helpful thing if the only paper you use is A4.

  132. Bob JOnes Says:

    I once got a linux error that read “This process is taking longer than expected. Odd.” Got a kick out of that one.

  133. g Says:

    From the original Mac OS:
    -73 – badDBtSlp – bad data mark bit slip nibbles

  134. Richard Says:

    I encountered a great one on Windows 98 a few years ago: “Ran out of memory trying to allocate 0 bytes”

  135. NoJo Says:

    Picking up on the Cadnetix theme, back in the mid-80’s, I worked as a software engineer for a Cadnetix “competitor”, Mentor Graphics. I supported about 400,000 lines of code someone else had written in about three weeks’ time (we were a startup, afterall). One day we fielded a call from an irate customer. See, this customer was mad because his missile defense system design work had been interrupted by an error message that said: “Beam me up Scotty, she’s sucking mud!”

  136. Todd Says:

    My favorite error happened when playing Half Life (the first one). I would get “fatal error: unknown error” How can it be an “unknown” error but you still knew it was an error? I even took a screenshot and have it somewhere.

    For the non-techys, when an error occurs usually the program will check to see what type of error it was to better inform the user (ex. if a hard drive was full, or even some cryptic library caused the crash). Unknown error is the ‘catch-all’ when the program wasn’t explicitly told what that error message meant.

  137. Matt Says:

    I think this one is pretty good:

  138. John Howell Says:

    The error messages I hate the most are the ones that say something like “A serious error has occured. Please see your system administrator”

    I am the freeking sysadmin and I don’t know what just went wrong!

  139. John Howell Says:

    I also like Googles homage to the “sad mac” by having a “sad tab” in chrome when it keels over.

  140. Jim H Says:

    My favorite error of all time was on the Xerox Sigma 9 mainframes. You’d be typing along and all of a sudden, you’d get this message:

    Your FLP overflows into your KBUF.

  141. topyli Says:

    Not an error (quite the opposite!) but when your hungry adventurer eats an apple in nethack, the system returns:

    Core dumped.

  142. Adam Says:


    was always one of my favorites.

  143. KudyardRipling Says:

    There was a bug when CALL -2458 was run to invoke the mini-assembler on a Franklin Ace 1000 (an Apple ][ clone) without integer BASIC loaded:

    >RXNT@X DRRNR or

    Entering anything other than an empty linw would cause the screen to spaz out in graphics mode that was described as Old Glory.

  144. imipak Says:

    If we’re going to include special-case crashes, the BBC Micro had an interesting case. If you type:
    10 gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10:gos.10
    The computer will crash. You don’t even need to run the code, it’ll kill the system stone-dead. Something similar happens if you type:
    10 dim a%(1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1)
    There was something screwy about the system that caused code that had very specific faults (it has to be a 14-dimensional DIM, and you have to use contracted gosubs in the first case, gotos won’t have the same affect.
    The Commodore PET had an interesting POST error – the screen would fill up with random characters, if it failed to past the test. Well, strictly, the screen filled up as part of the test and were cleared by another part. If anything between failed, that’s your BSoD. Well, GSoD, as PET monitors were green screens. If the machine was starting to go wrong, you’d sometimes see those characters freeze for a bit before the system continued.
    I can’t remember which one it was but I believe there was an OS that produced ALL of its error messages in a Japanese style of short poetry.
    I can’t remember if the Acorn Archimedes, Oric, Sinclair ZX81 or TRS-80 did anything interesting in the way of errors – more fans of the weird and wonderful are obviously needed to fill in this critical gap in knowledge.

  145. mike Says:

    Bash -2.05a#
    SmartStart Error – a haiku the SmartStart Development Team

    A fatal error
    Continue, SmartStart cannot
    Agony reboot

    Utilities run:

  146. m2pc Says:

    My favorite is from MySQL when your connection drops during a query:

    “MySQL server has gone away”

    Gone away to where? On vacation?

  147. nikh Says:

    My first time ever on a computer was in class, on an Apple II. I must have made an typo in the first command, because I only got “invalid operator” as response.

    How could the thing know?

  148. Capn Zig Says:

    I got a great one that I had to screen capture for posterity. I was running Virtual PC on a Mac (G3, I think). I loaded WinBench 96 to see how slow it really was, and was delighted to see this:

    “WinBench 96 cannot determine the refresh rate because the computer is too fast.”

  149. Amacman Says:

    When talking about post beeps, how could anyone ignore the famous macintosh version? It a car crash, tires screech, sound of impact and breaking glass. That gets your attention!

  150. Pod Says:

    My wife works as a social worker and often has to deal with medical
    software for elder care planning – she brought home a printout
    of a screen dump of an app that said “amputating the head is not an
    option” which always makes me laugh when I see it.

  151. fireman Says:

    What About UAE? from Windows 3.0? Unrecoverable Application Error: Terminating Current Session.

    Then theres good old Star Trek TOS: “Error Error! Must analyze Must Analise!!!”

    NoMad the space probe.

  152. Pod Says:

    I used to work at a company that produced printers. One time I saw the
    following error: “The such and such printer utility must shut down as
    the developers must go to a really freaky party.” Apparently that was
    never supposed to be seen by the public but it did happen once in a

  153. Joe Says:


    – After waiting and watching the ‘**’s flash from loading a program on cassette tape… 1979 – TRSDOS (Level I/II – back when 16k was LOT of memory)


    – mainframes… yummy! (so good was I at finding them, the entire campus came to me to help with their labs… that was not fun after a while.)

    * $$ Job Aborted

    – CICS – no further message to debug… the box just didn’t like it)

    ‘Access Denied’

    – even in conversation that phrase comes up… quite funny.

  154. Peder Says:

    And to continue Steve’s BSoD screensaver explanation, the xscreensaver for linux/bsd has lots of error messages to choose from, including BSoD, and I believe it precluded sysinternals.

  155. Christopher Nicholson-Sauls Says:

    One of my personal favorites:
    “IRQ not less than or equal”

    My god, its greater than… something.

  156. Cookie Monster Says:

    Definitely the guru meditation. By far my most fav.

    Trivia: The flash time on the meditation screen is the time taken for the 68000 CPU to do a dbf loop. The count on the dbf loop is 6809. A nice tribute to a nice processor.

    There’s also the old Microsoft basic one of:

    ?SN ERROR (Dragon 32/COCO).

  157. Jinxos Says:

    My favourite: “Error: Catastrophic Failure” rarely appearing in Windows anymore, but popular with NT

  158. Gary Says:

    I’m surprised there was no mention of the famous “NTLDR is missing” message that is displayed on Windows NT 4.0 and higher operating systems when there is a problem with the boot drive. That one has been a big annoyance to me for years.

  159. Dan_k_Nj Says:

    My all-time two favorites;

    1. C-64’s. Referring to an attempt to access a peripheral (floppy drive). “Error #0. Power not on.”

    2. Student: “What does ‘Missing Period is assumed’ mean?”
    Me: “I dunno… pregnancy?”

  160. Puggs Says:

    Being a programmer from way back (before PC) and having a wicked sence of humor, i use to put in error messages like the following;

    Erorr in line xxx, Press any key to continue or any other key to quit?


  161. NeilG Says:

    One of our programmers messed up with his error trapping, so when our customers installed the latest update, in the usual Windows fashion, up popped the following message, with the big red X :

    An error [0 : 0x800blah] has occurred while running setup:

    Please make sure you have finished blah, blah blah etc. etc.

    Report | Detail | OK

    When you clicked on Detail you got:

    Error Code : 0
    Error Information : Success!

    Wonderful 🙂 Our helpdesk had a busy month.

  162. Mario Says:

    Well I remember one error. Might have been from MS Access:

    “Can’t sort database, printer is out of paper”

  163. Andy Says:

    I think the FailWhale picture is supposed to be symbolic of how hard it is to keep a server “up” and running with such a huge a load (the whale) put on it, as with sites like Twitter.

  164. Justin Richards Says:

    back when i was just learning C++ i used the borland turbo c++ 3.1 ide. i once got 30 errors with the final error saying “error. too many errors”

  165. Nick Says:

    One of my favourite useless error messages I’ve seen was from a Mac program (I forget which):

    “something impossible has happened”

    I’ve generally found Mac programmers had a flair for witty error text (along with many *nix programmer), although I mostly saw this through examining programs with ResEdit rather than in using the programs.

    I have a soft spot too for the really easy to read errors on the ZX81. Classics like 0/1 or other equally eloquent prose could keep one entertained for hours.

    While not real error messages and only ever seen by a few class mates, I once wrote a spoof CPM command line interpreter for April fools day in the mid 80s and loaded it on all the machines in the schools lab, spoofing the genuine network boot sequence and then responding to any commands with genuine error messages at first, and then slowly with more frequent pseudo error messages that sounded almost right but getting increasingly silly such as:

    ‘fire on main board error’
    ‘Illegal command, call 999’
    ‘Command not found, have you checked your pockets?’

  166. Doug Says:

    Sheesh! You kids had it easy! In my day Crystal Reports didn’t even tell me if I had an error. It would just pop up a dialog box with nothing in it other than an OK button. I first had to find out if it was an error message on my own before I could figure out what the error was! Up hill! Both ways!

  167. Warren O Says:

    From the companion CD for the first printing of Bill Gates’ book The Road Ahead:

    “Sorry, The Road Ahead does not run on Windows NT.”

    Longest-running useless error message:

    “A device attached to the system is not functioning.”

    It’s been in Windows for many years, and still rears its ugly head occasionally. I’ve never seen it actually caused by a hardware or device problem, and it provides no clue what went wrong or where to look.

    Nice article, it brought back some memories! Too bad BSoD is such an obvious #1…

  168. kent Says:

    From the PDP-11 days
    ‘M trap to 4’
    I think I actually still remember what that means.

  169. JorgeM Says:

    Probably the worst error screen these days is the VMware Purple Screen of Death. For me, it means that 15 VMs or more just had the power cord yanked on them. Fortunately, like the MS BSoD these days, its rarity.

  170. Hal C F Astell Says:

    My favourite error comes from the Remedy app, which many IT departments use to track changes, problems, inventory etc. Remedy is an Action Request System and so anything that goes wrong is an Action Request System Error. When this becomes an acronym it becomes hilarious in certain countries. I remember seeing printed out copies on the wall back in England that read: ‘You have experienced an Action Request System Error (ARSE).’

  171. John Lu Says:

    Interview with Yiying Lu regarding fail whale

  172. Harry Johnston Says:

    One of my colleagues has a screenshot of an error message generated by the Macintosh version of Eudora some years back. I quote verbatim:

    Server not responding.
    The network failed (what this means is “to be supplied in a future version of the MacPCP documentation”, fat lot of good that does).

  173. AzureLunatic Says:

    My favorite 404 of all time is’s, which is a sonnet (written by the owner; I asked):

    So many years have passed since first you sought
    the lands beyond the edges of the sky,
    so many moons reflected in your eye,
    (familiar newness, fear of leaving port),
    since first you sought, and failed, and learned to fall,
    (first hope, then cynicism, silent dread,
    the countless stars, still counting overhead
    the seconds to your final voyage of all…)
    and last, in glory gold and red around
    your greatest search, your final quest to know!
    yet… ashes drift, the embers cease to glow,
    and darkened life in frozen death is drowned;
    and ashes on the swell are seen no more.
    The silence surges. Error 404.

  174. foo Says:

    PC load letter!!

  175. cristiantm Says:

    Nice list.

    I would only add a mention the Kernel Panic on modern Linux: When it happens, all just freezes, and while you try to guess what happened since there is no message or anithing, you look at your keyboard, and there is the answer: the flashing “caps lock” LED, telling you that you have a kernel panic.

  176. rootvg Says:

    wheres the “deadbeef” error message?

  177. GIBson3 Says:

    Just throwing this out there…

    The BSoD Screen saver that is now available on Microsoft’s website was actually written by the boys at SysInternals, the people that brought Process Explorer and PS tools to the world. These programs (and others) were so much more useful than the Microsoft versions that I and a few others I know used them as System32 drop in replacements for the official utility. It seems that Microsoft noticed this too, so like always, they bought out SysInternals and thus started distributing a screen saver that does a fantastic job of mocking their OS.

    As of all time favorite Error messages, I’m not sure, the most memorable however was the first time I got a Kernel Panic on my linux box. Happened when I rebooted after my first ever kernel build…

  178. soakesafmc Says:

    The original 1970’s Unix diff command simply said one word when it couldn’t handle the job:


  179. DaveFromAus Says:

    Before Windows, before AmigaDOS, before MS-DOS, there was CP/M, a tiny OS that shoehorned the whole OS, plus one application (Wordstar, Fortran, etc) into 64k of RAM.
    It didn’t have much space for error messages.
    It’s equivalent of the BSOD was –
    “BDOS error on A/B”, depending on whether the problem was associated with the A or B floppy drive.

  180. Roy Says:

    …as mentioned elsewehere,
    I can’t believe that “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that” didn’t make the list.

  181. Don Says:

    Produced by a very old application:

    In case of error call 705-555-1234

    A console operator dialed the number….and got Dial-a-Prayer.

  182. Steve Says:

    Keyboard error or no keyboard present… Press F1 to continue.

  183. TimothyLuke Says:

    What about the good old “General Protection Fault” with its obligatory “OK” button.

  184. MrVeedle Says:

    I’m surprised no one mentioned the dreaded IBM PC-XT error 1701: HDD Controller Failure.

    I had a number of PC-XT clones back in the day, and the aftermarket MFM/RLL controller cards were notorious for dropping dead without notice.

  185. Krozar Says:

    Let’s not forget the Dr. Watson error. Or, as I like to call them, the Dr. Kevorkian error, because the error never fixed anything… it just helped your program kill itself!

  186. Nefarious Wheel Says:

    The fictional “Excuse me don’t excuse me Ah Clem, you have made The Doctor unhappy happy, and will be asked to leave the future immediately”.

    This was from “I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus” by the Firesign Theatre. This cult comedy album described “The Future Faire”, an entirely virtual theme park where you got to speak to a hologram of President Nixon, who was “The Terminal Bus”. Ah Clem was your quintessential hacker (“Please state your name” — Ah…Clem.) who gummed up the works. Verra strongly recommended listen if you find a copy.

    Rather visionary, considering it was composed during the punch-card era.

  187. sync Says:

    Twitter !!!!! all time, I don’t think so. What about Cyclic Redundancy Check.

  188. Colin Fox Says:

    The BSOD screensaver was made by a company called Sysinternals, which was then bought by Microsoft several years later. So no, Microsoft did not make it, Sysinternals did.

  189. uellue Says:

    The Twitter whale is kinda obvious: The servers are dragged down by the heavy load!

  190. NEWK Says:

    Google Chrome has a “sad tab” when a tab crashes (since each tab is a new process in Chrome). It looks similar to the “sad mac”.

  191. knutbert Says:

    I once deleted the /etc/passwd file (the user database) while being root on my linux box. After that each subsequent command gave the error:

    “You don’t exist. Go away!”

    That’s still my all-time favourite! 🙂

  192. Tin Britches Says:

    During my college days I programmed an SDS Sigma 7 running BTM/BPM and UTS/CP-V.

    If, during a timesharing session, you fouled up a command, you would
    get the error
    $ EH @ xx
    where xx was the offset from the first char where the command line parser figured out something’s wrong.

    When the system crashed, it would send to all timesharing terminals:
    (bell)(bell)Recovery says stand by…

    With the FORTRAN compiler, if you used “JAIL” as the variable in an
    assigned GO TO, i.e. “GO TO JAIL”, the compiler would emit the error

  193. Jason Says:

    Seriously how can Visual Basic’s incredibly helpful “Unknown Error” not make this list?

  194. uellue Says:

    Are the Linux blinking keyboard LEDs mentioned anywhere? Like a dead person holding up a sign reading “I’m dead”.

  195. Modified_67 Says:

    My all-time favorite:

    “No mouse detected. Click OK to continue.” WTF? How can I click something if the mouse isn’t detected?

  196. Bit101 Says:

    Error I got in a freeware game:
    “What the bloody hell did you do?”

  197. Grim Reaper Says:

    An EKG flat line.

    Kinda says it all.

  198. Sarah F. Says:

    My personal favorite was Windows’ “You have performed an illegal operation.” When Windows was throwing that around willy-nilly, any seasoned Windows user thought, “BFD.”

    Now, imagine my aunt’s surprise when this occurred when she bought her first computer back in 1998. There are three things that you need to know about my aunt:

    1. She’s a luddite.
    2. She’s neurotic.
    3. At the time, she was a cop.

    When “You have performed an illegal operation” popped It was really quite comical. She truly believed that she had done something against the law and was going to jail. I have fond memories of this day.

  199. Alan Macdonald Says:

    Way back in my school days in the 70’s, we had a GE 115 mid-size (at the time) computer. It had a COBOL compiler that was coded in Italy. We even had the source, assembler with Italian comments.

    Occasionally we would get “compilation noa gooda” error message.

  200. Jay Kim Says:

    Does “By Your Command” count as an error message in that it was given right before the destruction of the human race?

  201. John Says:

    The TRS-80 Model III Level 1 computer had a “friendly” version of BASIC that reported only three possible errors – “What?”, “How?” and “Sorry!”. “What?” means syntax error, “How?” was a procedural error and “Sorry!” meant out of memory. This was more “friendly” to the user than all of those cryptic words like “syntax”. Type in a 20 line program with a syntax error somewhere then run it and get “What?”.

  202. Krpalospo Says:

    good excellent post, There are a screensaver in xscreensaver call BSOD that have all famous messages errors incluing all in this post .

  203. Bits Says:

    IIRC, the original BSOD was just blue (no text at all); I first saw it in a Windows beta. The docs that came with the beta actually referenced the error as “the blue screen of death” and, when we called M$ to tell them we’d seen a BSOD, they wanted to know where we’d heard the name (it was removed from the next copy of the docs).

    In any event, my vote goes to “PARITY CHECK 2”.

  204. Jamie Says:

    Has anyone mentioned Scandisks annoying “You did not shut down your computer properly” message?…

    It has to be the most annoying message ever encountered.

  205. Rotaluclac Says:

    The 4DOS command interpreter showed me “Illegal error”.


  206. Tim Says:

    The joys of learning to progam (and now teaching it):
    COBOL (data error – 15 years since I programmed in COBOL as a student and it is still ingrained in my head):

    Smalltalk (just about any syntax error – 15 years ago and no fond memories):
    Smalltalk does not understand

    C++ with the DevC++ compiler (student types Main instead of main):
    [Linker error] undefined reference to `WinMain@16′

  207. muzic Says:

    I always found the Bomb when a Mac crashed entertaining.

  208. mark Says:

    I think one of the best BSoD I ever saw was at COMDEX. We arrived early for the Bill Gates speech. There was a few dozen people already there. They had the projector on and was setting up the Microsoft demo for Gate’s speech when the blue screen appeared. The person quickly turned off the projector. The funny thing is they were demoing WIN ME which they claimed was more stable then 98 or 95. The WIN ME had multiple errors during the presentation while the WIN98 demo machine was solid as a rock. They tried over and over to get the WIN98 machine to crash and it wouldn’t

  209. richard Says:

    If any fictional messages are going to be included, then number one on the list must certainly be

    “I have detected a fault in the AE35 unit. It will go 100% failure within 72 hours.”

    Two must be (from “Forbidden Planet”) Robbie’s menacing:

    “Morbius, something is approaching from the southwest. It is now quite close.”

    And three through ten or so is just about anything printed or said by Colossus in “Colossus: The Forbin Project” (

  210. Cpt. Charisma Says:

    One of my favorites is a Linux error. It appears in several KDE applications, such as K3B and the print tool, that are just front ends for command line tools.

    “Error: Success!”

    Also, the X Windowing System (the Linux GUI) used to give an error along the lines of:
    ERROR: I don’t know what to go. Giving up.

    Finally, several people have already mentioned the blinking keyboard LEDs for Linux kernel panics. What many people don’t know is that there is an option to have the actual error transmitted in morse code via the LEDs.

  211. Vic Says:

    What about the ‘Click of Death’ on Zip Drives made by IOMega that used those 100MB Zip disks.

    This was a sound made by defective drive that would indicate that permanent failure was imminent.

  212. Fulko Hew Says:

    My favorite error message was from Windows 2000 (I think), when I got a blue screen that said: “Your system has become unstable. Wait for it to become stable again, or reboot.” Well I waited and waited, then went out for lunch, and since it hadn’t become stable again after 2 hours (now did you really think it would have?)… I rebooted it.

  213. Rob Menke Says:

    The Macintosh Programmer’s Workshop C compiler (what you used to make Mac programs prior to MacOS X) had a number of quirky error messages that would pop up in unusual situations. Four of my favorites (from memory — not exact) were:

    You cannot swim upstream, modify a constant, win an argument with the IRS, or satisfy this compiler.

    String constant exceeds 512 bytes (which is three more than what ANSI says I must give you).

    Out of memory for symbol table: please go purchase more RAM from your Authorized Apple Dealer.

    And this one was my .signature file for the longest time:

    Type in (cast) must be scalar; ANSI 3.3.4; page 39, lines 10-11 (I know you don’t care, I’m just trying to annoy you)

  214. Gryphon Says:

    No BDOS ERR ON A: SELECT? yet? CP/M was even more cryptic than DOS sometimes.

    The best, and most frustrating error I’ve ever seen was on a PDP-11/34A running Unix System 3. These were used to test relay frames, and had line printers as the only output. You could start a test, and turn away from them – the noise of the printer would tell you how the test was going. Every so often, the printer would stop, and just as you turned back, it would spit out “Death.”

    DL=0 and try again.

  215. anonymous Says:

    yeah the first transparent ZIP drives were called the iClick.

  216. Says:

    the ‘Keyboard not present. press F1 to continue’ error should have been No.1

    Some of my own favourites:

    I pulled out my modem once, put it back, and when I rebooted my BIOS beeped ‘de do de do de do…’. One beep would have meant OK, two would have meant bad RAM (or something), a siren though? New PC time.

    From the game Narbacular Drop: “D3D takeover of window failed. This should never happen, so there’s really nothing you can do.”

    From Dr Watson (error reporter): “Dr Watson Postmortem debugger has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”

  217. Adam Says:

    I got an event viewer message once that once said

    “There was an error starting Microsoft Exchange Information Store – the operation completely successfully”

    The Irony

  218. pwnt Says:

    # Emily Says:
    September 18th, 2008 at 8:57 am

    I once returned two CPUs due to the Post beeps on my system. According to the manufacturer of the motherboard, the set of beeps I was hearing meant a failed CPU. Actually, the RAM was bad and confusing the system into thinking the CPU was bad.
    When I was 5, I did something to my parents brand new ($5000) Macintosh and got sad mac. I thought I’d destroyed the machine and hid under my bed. All they did was eject the floppy I’d left in and kept on going.

    Only a woman could be that stupid when it came to computers. Go back to hiding under your bed n00b.

  219. James Says:

    How about the Atari 400/800 –

    0 – POWER NOT ON

  220. David Thornley Says:

    The original TRS-80s, with the “level 1” 4K ROM, had three error messages: WHAT? (syntax error), HOW? (runtime error), and SORRY (out of memory). At least it displayed the offending line with a question mark in more or less the place where the error was found.

  221. Tim Says:

    I get a dialog box every so often on exiting windows a box titled “you should not see this” “click ok to continue”

  222. diss Says:

    in the fictional error messages category, my favourite is
    “++?????++ Out of Cheese Error. Redo From Start.”
    by HEX.

    of course, HEX is a system which runs better the more bugs you put in, so this might just make sense.

  223. TT12 Says:

    “Absolutely, absolutely.”

    You stupid sycophantic advertising scumball.

  224. sp1k3 Says:

    Best I have seen on a Altos 2000 ”
    Double Panic Trap Saving information for a post mortem”

  225. Milo Says:

    “Ultimately, it’s not going too far to say that the BSoD is a sort of persistent, universal reminder of the fallibility of computers …”

    No, it’s not. It’s a reminder of the fallibility of humans. Computers “fail” because those who built it or programmed it or use it have done something wrong. It’s not the hammer’s fault if the head flies off the handle. Don’t blame the tool for the shortcomings of humankind.

  226. David Lacey Says:

    My favorite is from the Apollo Domain workstations:

    Error 220009: unit will not fit thru 25″ hatch (OS/magtape manager)

    This refers to a large computer manufacturer (former employer of some of the
    Apollo OS folks) that once bid on a government contract to supply computing
    equipment for use on board submarines. They lost the contract when the
    government discovered that the tape drive would not fit through the 25 inch
    hatch used to load equipment onto a submarine. Anything that won’t fit
    through the hatch has to be loaded by cutting a hole in the hull.

  227. Mike Says:

    “Richard Keil Memorial Abend #27”

  228. PCH Says:

    No Lotus Notes ones?

    When Notes fell over and crashed, it would write a RIP file, which was produced by QNC.exe (Quincy). The output file was headed “Coroner’s Report”

    By messing with resource forks on Macs, you could get some very curious error messages, something like “this file was created by a program that doesn’t yet exist”

  229. Dave Says:

    I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

  230. HWR Says:

    My favorite, from IBM MVS:

    IEC999I “Probable user error. Correct job input and resubmit.”

  231. Dohn Joe Says:

    “To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.”

    Hmmm…I prefer:

    “To err is human, to blame a computer for the err is VERY human.”

  232. Elder Says:

    One last try at naming the building in the New York BSoD picture: Port Authority Bus Terminal, 42nd St and 8th Ave.

  233. Mario Says:

    On Win98: Error! Operation succeeded.

  234. Leigh Says:

    Another old UNIX shell funny error:

    $ man: why did you get a divorce?
    man:: too many arguments.

  235. Mario Says:

    Amiga had a useful feature though: when it was about to crash, it would flash the power light indicating that you’d better save anything you were doing because it was going bye bye!

  236. fred james Says:

    There was a Microsoft MSDOS Basic compiler that could produce an
    FU error code. This code was not documented in the list of error
    codes and no one at Microsoft U.K. could tell me what it meant.

  237. Bev Says:

    ‘USER DID ERR in line ‘ from some version of FORTRAN. Judgmental, almost biblical.

  238. Tony Powell Says:

    I often get this dialog error box when using Rhapsody:

    “There was no error.”

  239. Divine Bird Jenny Says:

    What, no TILT?

  240. Nick Says:

    The Sad Mac has such a strong flavor of early Macintosh-ishness that it’s easy to develop a false memory that it was part of the platform from the beginning in 1984. Nope–Wikipedia says it first appeared in 1987

    And who ever uses wikipedia as a reliable source of information? I have an original 1984 Macintosh in my collection that greets me with a sad mac every time I turn it on due to a failed RAM chip.

  241. Paul Smith Says:

    A schematic capture package for MS-DOS I used many years ago (Schema II) would ocassionally crash.

    Every time in crashed, somewhere in the output would be the words:

    “Fairfield New Jersey is AT&T”

    The package included many command line tools as well that would sometimes produce this same output.

    I always wondered why in the word this text would even be in such a software package.

  242. Sherif Says:


  243. Mainframe Mangler Says:

    For those who remember mainframes, the best (IBM) mainframe error was 0C0 — Imprecise Interrupt. Somewhere back in the preceding 63 halfwords of instructions (as interpreted by the machine, so not just in the program(s) under consideration) was one (or more!) conditions that caused an interrupt. When? Where? Why? Only the hardware designers knew for sure (and they weren’t around to tell you).

  244. Eric Says:

    How about as recently as IE8 Beta :

    “Internet Explorer is currently running with add-ons disabled. Click here to manage, disable, or remove your add-ons.”

    Not only are all “add-ons” enabled, but WTF is with “add-on?” is this microspeak for plugin? what’s wrong with plugin? everybody else in the world informally convened and agreed to use “plugin” to mean plugin. why does microsoft unnecessarily complicating things have to run into to vocabulary too ? i want an answer on this choice of word – “add-on.” And while I’m at it, how about (also from IE8)

    “You have approved this plugin to run on the following sites: *”

    Really? “*”??? Now is that “*.com”, “*.org” or “*.*”? I see microsoft has really made great strides towards making their products more user-friendly since their “illegal operation” error messages . . .

  245. Jevon Says:

    99.9999999999999% ??

    That means that only one person, in the entire world, has ever understood what hexadecimal numbers meant for 4 hours of their entire life.

    Nice exaggeration 😉

  246. A Non-idiot Says:

    The keyboard errors suggesting you press F1 to continue were only funny if you were a moron. If you were not a moron, you simply reconnected the keyboard connector that had become dislodged, and pressed F1, as suggested. I have much fonder memories of the SYNTAX ERROR I saw all too often when my poorly-coded BASIC programs crashed on the ol’ Apple II.

  247. vinodvm Says:

    Where is the “Segmentation fault”

  248. Timothy Says:

    Here’s my favorite:

    OS/2 !! SYS01475
    OS/2 !! SYS02027

    Those lines mean “boot record not found” and “insert a bootable system disk and restart the system.” You would see them if you (or somebody else) formatted a diskette with OS/2, inserted the diskette in Drive A (the boot drive, on your machine or someone else’s), and restarted the system. These cryptic errors confused almost everyone.

    You would see these two lines instead of, say, “Diskette not bootable” for two reasons. The first reason is that the boot sector contains limited space, so the messages had to be short. The second reason is that IBM product development bureaucracy ran amok. Instead of displaying an error message that would be decipherable to at least the English-reading world, IBM national language standards required that the error message be language-neutral and thus indecipherable to the whole world. Since (unlike a Mac) there are no graphics available at that point in the boot process, there was no opportunity to display the equivalent of a Sad Mac (or Sad Diskette). And since you cannot fit all major languages in just a few bytes, you got a pair of cryptic SYS numbers. The “OS/2” part was completely misleading. That was supposed to mean “check your OS/2 documentation for a list of error messages to figure out what the rest of this means,” but the immediate cause of the error had nothing whatsoever to do with OS/2. You’d see this same error if you left any OS/2-formatted diskette in Drive A and rebooted a DOS, Windows, or Linux PC. (OS/2 formatted diskettes as FAT also, so that wasn’t the issue.)

    IBM is very good about providing error numbers for every error, which helps make supporting their products much easier. And the rest of OS/2 (i.e. after boot) would always display the error description alongside the code number in whatever national language was active at the time. That’s all really great design. But in this particular case IBM got silly.

    Unfortunately IBM never fixed this. They insisted this was “working as designed.” Which is exactly the problem. They could have even fit “Floppy in Drive!” (or “Diskette Error!”) as the first line and kept “OS/2 !! SYS02027” as the second line to make almost everyone happy, but sadly no.

  249. Ross PResser Says:

    For me, it was the TRS-80’s version of the MS-BASIC syntax error:


    or even better,

    ?L3 ERROR

    which indicated you’d used a command that didn’t exist YET, hence a Level 3 error. (This on a 16K Level II system.)

  250. Dave Says:

    I think that the “Microsoft Workers In Hell” page that can be reached in certain versions of Excel from Line 666 deserves mention. It shows the programmers working in flames, etc. It’s really more of a hidden Easter Egg than a bad error message, but it does get across that espirit-de-corps feeling of working there.

    Certainly the Atari ST “Bombs” screen, where the number of bombs indicated the 68000 error code, was always rather exciting to get.
    (2 was a Bus Error and so forth.)

    But I most enjoyed teaching the Atari to be a Mac (emulator software) because if it crashed, which happened from time to time, any key press or mouse movement would (in effect) press the “Mac” “RESET” button and restart the emulator. So, if you took your fist and hit the table, the system rebooted. That’s my kinda error message handler.

  251. unonymous Says:

    look, you need to provide a link to the whole story, not like 5 links to each page.

  252. dave Says:

    Working with a Cullinet databases in the 80’s, you’d commonly see error msgs like “Fatal embrace in the database, call DBA”, fatal this, fatal that. As a joke, in a test version of our software, I put a joke error msg based on a movie that had just come out, fully intending to change it before production.

    2 years later, we get a call from the field, asking, “What the #*^@ does the error ‘Fatal Attraction in the database, call Michael Douglas’ mean??”

  253. Elias Says:

    You can still get “Abort, Retry, Fail” in Windows XP, when you, say, have removed a CD from the player and then try to access a file on it.

    One of my favourites was the Mac “An unexpected error has ocurred…” Well, duh, if you expected it, it wouldn’t be an error, right?

  254. Dave Small Says:

    You wrote, “The Sad Mac has such a strong flavor of early Macintosh-ishness that it’s easy to develop a false memory that it was part of the platform from the beginning in 1984. Nope–Wikipedia says it first appeared in 1987.”

    I’m sorry, I really am, because you made an effort to doublecheck your story, but it looks like Wikipedia is about to get a strong argument from me.

    I happen to know this code very, very, *very* well, since I had to adapt it to another computer, with a larger screen size. The Mac screen was 64 bytes wide. The Atari ST screen was 80 bytes wide. So, to make a vertical line on the Mac, you’d move a dot to screen memory, add 64, and move another dot to screen memory, etc. I had to fixup ==all== those 64’s to 80’s so they’d work on the Atari. So let’s say I spent waaaaaaaaaaaay too many hours documenting this code up, down, and sideways, while listening (the horror!) to Neil Young Live Rust!. If I seem a little twitchy about this … well …a case could be made for that point of view.

    I had to fix every single frowney, smiley, disk-shaped, ?, X, or what ever Mac icon. I truly do know them all.

    In the 64K original (1984) Mac ROMs, of which I have a printout sitting on my lap *right at this moment*, Wikipedia or not, you positively WILL find:

    The “Draw a Sad Mac and Do An Error Code Onscreen” at routine BadMac, $4000F4. In that routine, you’ll find the BRAnch to DrawSadMac at $400118, which returns via the address in A6. It then draws numeric codes. You will then find the numeric images of the codes at “numimages” at $40017A. To nail this point down with a hammer, the actual code that *puts them onto the display* is a MOVE.B D5,(A2), at $400146. It’s part of several loops. The system then has its interrupts turned off ($400168) and loops forever to $40016C.

    DrawSadMac is invoked in a variety of places. The most famous is the “Dire Straits” Alert Code (a.k.a. the “DsErrCode”). Of course, “Dire Straits” is not what the programmers originally named it; this is a real-bad-news code, the computer is in deep s—. They try to handle it gracefully. But if the system can’t do stuff like an InitGraf, InitPort, and PlotIcon, oh well, it jumps off to BadMac documented above, and BadMac is just not a happy place to go.

    Routine DrawSadMac ($4007CC) is combined with other routines, like DrawMac, and DrawHappyMac, that all use common drawing code, but use different images.

    This code is directly followed by the images for BlankMac ($40080C), then for other things, like:

    DiskIcon ($400870), MacSmile ($4008A0), MacFrown ($4008B4), QuesMark($4008C8), and XMark ($4008E6).

    I suppose it’ll become tediously necessary for me to decode the number images into Mac screen images to convince the Wikipedia people that gee, the 64K ROMs had this stuff.

    I would like to say that the people who wrote these ROMs taught me 68000 programming, in particular, Andy Hertzfeld. The man is a master and I was an apprentice looking over his shoulder. He taught me so many things that I can’t begin to describe them all. He’s a genius.

    I hope this puts this stuff about “You had to go to the 128K ROMs to get the certain Mac startup faces” to bed. Because … I also “did” the 128’s, and that printout, too, is around . . .

    Thanks for tolerating my twitchiness.

    Take care,

    Dave Small

  255. Moshe Kranc Says:

    My favorite error message came from ‘ed’, the original Unix line editor back in the late 70’s. I’d spend 15 minutes concocting the regular expression command I wanted ‘ed’ to execute (e.g., ‘/abc/s/x$1bcd$2yz/yz$1xz$2/g’) and type it in. Ed responds with a simple, elegant error message: ? (a single question mark)
    I check the UNIX man page for ‘ed’ and fine the following, under ‘ERRORS”: “?: Error in command. The experienced user will know what to do” (Insert sound of head banging against wall)

  256. Erik Says:

    I upgraded the original 8088 on my Ericsson Portable PC to a Nec v20. Whoa what a performance boost 🙂

    The original CPU was soldered to the motherboard, no socket there. I thought I was very careful, but when I finally had soldered a socket in place, put the v20 in the socket and turned the power on, the screen was black.

    From the pc – tweeter came “di-di-di daa-daa-daa di-di-di”, “di-di-di daa-daa-daa di-di-di”… SOS! Since this was in the middle of the night, I was afraid the beeping would awake my parents, so I quickly turned it off.

    A close inspection revealed a tiny flake of solder that was stuck between two legs on a memory chip close the the CPU. I removed it and everything worked just fine..

  257. GBrown Says:

    How about AbEnd ? Except Novell didn’t like to make too much of a song and dance so it left a couple of lines on the console and incremented a number next to the server name at the prompt.

    Then you had “Multiple AbEnds are occurring” at which point things started to go a bit wrong – either it hung or just plain quit on you back to DOS (assuming you hadn’t unloaded DOS already).

    Novell? Yes NetWare not Suse – there used to be a lot of it about until they forgot how to market and didn’t innovate for 10 years.

  258. Wendy Says:

    Some of the cute ones:

    BIOS Error: “keyboard not found: press F1 to continue”

    Windows 2000
    * Insert the diskette containing the swap file in *
    * drive %1 and close the drive door. *

  259. michael Says:

    The RPC shutdown (from the blaster worm; error 6) can be aborted, by the way, by typing ‘shutdown -a’ at the command prompt or in the windows run box. So, not really a blue/red/grey screen of death when you know how to deal with it.

  260. Sammy01 Says:

    Linux Kernel NMI kernel panic:

    “Dazed and confused, but trying to continue”

  261. Error Says:

    ORA-29532: Java call terminated by uncaught Java exception: string
    Cause: A Java exception or error was signaled and could not be resolved by the Java code.
    Action: Modify Java code, if this behavior is not intended.

  262. Jakub Anderwald Says:

    On of the business apps I support has two different messages, for “the last else in error handling”:

    Unknown Internal Error
    Known Internal Error

    The latter always makes me laugh.

  263. jd Says:

    When working on C programs, newbies would often get “bad magic number” errors from the compiler. That was because they didn’t give their C source file a name ending in .c

  264. jd Says:

    Or what about good old Java. Bestest language ever. Impossible to write bad programs in. Everybody knows why, it’s because Java doesn’t have any pointers. What’s the most common error newbie Java programmers get? NullPointer Exceptions. BUT JAVA DOESN’T HAVE POINTERS!!! RIGHT!!!!1!

  265. Phil Says:

    My anti-virus used to amuse me, on cancelling an update, it would ask “do you wish to cancel?” with the options “yes”, “no” and “cancel” – what is cancel? Does it mean cancel the cancel request?

  266. Ivo Jesus Says:

    “Segmentation fault”…
    Its a classic error, and a pretty common one for C programmers. It has tormented me for years, and from time to time it still torments me.
    For me, its way more irritating than a BSoD because, BSoDs are not my fault, “Seg Faults” usualy are!

  267. Chris Says:

    An Error message from an old C compiler comes to mind here:

    Too many errors. Try making fewer.

    And from another compiler, similarly at the end of a long list of errors:

    I’m seriously confused by now. Fix the first error listed and recompile.

  268. Kili Liam Says:

    Definitively: “Tape loading error” … DAMM



    Spectrum RULES!

  269. Simon Valiquette Says:

    Many years ago, on Windows NT4 Server, there was a VB program that was not responding at all, so I decided to kill It with CTRL-ALT-DEL, and the system gave me a pop up telling me:

    “Can’t stop”

    with a quite useless and insulting “Ok” button on It.

    I couldn’t kill the program, nor even reboot, but could still open other applications.

    I traced back the problem to a memory leak in Visual Studio, and could somethie reproduce the problem, but It still feel very weird and stupid.

    But It doesn’t beat the “Keyboard error, press any key to continue” PC bios error, that should certainly have been on the list.

  270. Rob Krul Says:

    As A systems Administrator, I like the errors for the sudo program for Linux. The fun part of it is I get to chose how insulting I want the error messages to be. I always set it on the max level. It seems to brighten up everyone’s day.

  271. Fjodor Says:

    I seem to remember reading up on the “lp0 is on fire”-thingy. Nowadays, it signals that no other error message fitted, but back in the days, it would come from a failure switch being thrown without some others – a combination that could only be reached by the runaway ink strip (or what it’s called) that would jam the thing – setting it on fire…

    Oh, and once I saw a mac complaining about aborting due to a nonexistant failure, which I took to mean that it just couldn’t find the error code in it’s table of those. A tad better would have been the unknown error mentioned above…

  272. bob Says:

    In the early 1970’s a fortran compiler on a cdc 3100 would produce something like:

    123 The do statement that terminates on this line does not terminate before the end card

    (All uppercase on a line printer, source code was on realy physical 80 column cards)

  273. CPScott Says:

    On specific models of Power PC Macintosh Clones circa 1997, finder corruption would cause a system halt and display (along with the sad mac) the error code:

    “Blueberries and Crumpets are a Chewy Treat”

    Never did understand that one.

  274. Aniah Says:

    One of the error messages I remember while running gparted.

    “since gparted is a weapon of mass destruction, only root may run it”

  275. Anish Says:

    One of the error messages I remember while running gparted.

    “since gparted is a weapon of mass destruction, only root may run it”

  276. Not Says:

    When I was once very very new to ‘NIX systems I tried to do something as root in FreeBSD and I got:

    The requested operation will cause a terminal kernel failure if performed. Since you are root the request will be fulfilled… (I don’t quite remember the wording, I was too busy hitting Ctrl-C)

    Followed by a week of me trying to undo my mistake.

  277. D.W. Says:


    My vote is from the early 1980s.
    Imagine an entire terminal room with 30 or so undergrads typing away on terminals connected to a DECSYSTEM-20 before a class project deadline. Suddenly every terminal emits a long beep and the message “%DECSYSTEM-20 NOT RUNNING”.

    Erie quiet followed usually by cursing.

    The front end processor to the main computer detected that the main computer had died.

  278. RJ Jansky Says:

    How about the non-blue screen message you would receive from Win ’98 if it hung and you had to push the Big-Red_Button…

    Windows has been improperly shutdown. To avoid this message in the future…

    Right! If this OS wasn’t so flimsy maybe it wouldn’t hang and leave me with no other option but the reset button. Being a UNIX guy Panic Core Dump has always had a special place in my heart.


  279. jakesdad Says:

    he scariest place I’ve ever seen a bsod was on an ULTRASOUND machine in the frakin’ _CARDIOLOGY_ wing of a major hospital here in Atlanta! um, windoze running diagnostic medical equipment? I guess it could be worse, they could be using it to run those surgical robots they do bypasses w/nowadays – on 2nd thought, maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that one…

  280. js Says:

    Marc: the “PC LOAD LETTER” error message is fondly remembered in Europe, where all the paper is sized as specified in ISO 216, most printers using A4. Should one know what “LOAD LETTER” means, there is usually no convenient means to obtain “letter” paper. Besides, what would one do with it? The error message can be cancelled with a button anyway…

    This error message is generally associated with the following set of conditions: 1) a printer full of A4 paper; 2) a program or printer driver that has U.S. paper sizes as defaults; 3) a user who has forgotten to set the paper size on a new document.

  281. Derek Says:

    What hasn’t anyone heard of the Mac S.O.S. beep? On some machines, when there is a significant failure, the speaker will beep out S.O.S. in morse code (dit-dit-dit-dah-dah-dah-dit-dit-dit)… I remember this all the way back in the MacSEs and I’ve even seen the current MacBooks do it as well.

  282. Mad Says:

    Two of the ones I thought of while reading this:

    On a PDP-8/11 cross compiler in MS-DOS (paraphrased, can’t find the actual text):

    Warning 256 – More than 254 Warnings. Abort.

    And in Murex (a financial program):

    Service maybe dead (Spelled exactly like that 🙂

  283. runbuh Says:

    This is not an error message, more of a status message and my first “Easter Egg”. Remember the Hayes modem “AT Command Set”? The Apple Personal Modem (1200 baud) would not only respond to an “AT” query with “OK” (per the Hayes set), you could also type in “ET” and it would reply with “Phone Home”.

  284. Tom Stearn Says:

    Did anyone notice the misspelled word in the RSoD?

    It says:
    “An error occurred transferring exectuion”

    Is that how it really appeared, or was the image manufactured wrong?

  285. Tom Says:

    My favorite error message comes from Vista – “An unexpected error is preventing the operation. Make note of this error code, which might be useful if you get additional help to resolve this problem:

    Error 0x00000000: The operation completed successfully.”


  286. Ben Says:

    When I was starting learning my first programming language (in QBASIC) I had my dot-matrix printer’s manual with code that would show off its features. I had made a typo and the error I got was “subscript error”. I was trying to figure out how QBASIC knew I was trying subscript on the printer since the program was mostly a series of LPRINT escape codes. Turned out I had missed a dollar sign on a CHR$(27) and “subscript error” in this context meant “array index out of bounds” on the unitialised “CHR” array variable.

  287. 4T Says:

    Blue screen of death is not the greatest error message. It has no character, no soul. Unlike the Guru Meditation which IS the greatest error message of all time.

  288. GrayCoder Says:

    From early sun OS, typed on console:
    “ie0: bark”
    (watchdog timeout on ethernet interface zero).
    “Thanks, Andy.”
    Upon a transient parity error in main memory, then a scan of all memory
    could not find the fault.
    From Microsoft Excel (office 97 to current)
    “File Not Saved [Ok]”
    You will find a 2 (or 4) Gb file, with an 8 character Hex
    name in the working directory. Your .XLS is not saved.

  289. jbenni Says:

    I’m embarrassed to admit, we actually published a C++ app on the Mac that occasionally said (without trying to be sarcastic):

    Error: Insufficient memory to print a meaningful error message.

  290. Tom Says:

    It’s not exactly an *error* message, but the attitude behind “It is now safe to turn off your computer.” used to make me wonder who was in control of things, and what retribution the machine might exact if I shut it down otherwise.

  291. Johnie Says:

    My favorite was from the Mix C Compiler for CP/M.

    I’m totally confused, check your control structure.

  292. charlie lavardo Says:

    the previous post(from, now…that’s an error(on his part).

  293. jggimi Says:

    My all-time favorite:


    From Honeywell’s Multics OS, a precursor of Unix. Error messages in Latin shouldn’t normally happen.

    Translation: “Today is born the brother of a root,” or sometimes, “out of the root is born a brother.”

    I used that very same Multics system that had the error, but a year or two later.

  294. Thomas Says:

    Hmm, there is one I like more than most of these, and that’s an error some programs (most notably VMWare) give, and that’s a popup window titled “Error”, and the contents of the window “Success” with a red and white error icon. I’m proud of myself for being able to get Schrodinger’s Error.

  295. Chris Says:

    When Diablo 2 crashes, you get a simple textbox with a single line of text:

    We got a really big problem here.

  296. Mike Says:

    I used to assemble 286 and 386 computers and I used those bios beeps a lot to tell me what was wrong with a new system. Six beeps was memory, our most common problem as I recall.

    Not exactly an error message but a warning of sorts: We had a programmer who wanted to build a computer and we let him. It had those poorly keyed power connectors and he forced them on the wrong way. When he switched on the power, all the caps blew and destroyed the motherboard rather spectacularly. He never asked to help again.

    Great trip down memory lane.

  297. Nonsense Says:

    What about this error in the Sinclair BASIC:
    Nonsense in BASIC

    Gotta love it

  298. timebombtimmy Says:

    Good stuff. My favorite is from Phoenix Technologies’ PXE Server. It reads: “Unable to load resource template. Some unknown terrible thing has happened. (-2147287007)”

    Or when windows closes windows explorer to protect your computer.
    Some of the *NIX ones are classic :-).

  299. dark Says:

    I think the Twitter whale could mean “heavy load”? =)

  300. Ken Says:

    “Pick 1 dump”.

    When Honeywell mainframes running the GCOS operating system crashed, the message affectionately known as “Pick 1” would be typed on the console. The operator could choose dumping an image of main memory to tape, disk, none, etc.

  301. Planner Says:

    Segmentation Fault. Core Dumped.

  302. Nobody Says:

    Where’s ‘syntax error’ and that bloody bomb the mac showed me just after I finished my Year 12 essay?

  303. Troy Baer Says:

    I’m pretty sure that “lp0 on fire” is a Linux-specific thing that didn’t appear in old-school UNIXes, although I could be wrong about that.

    My all-time favorite Linux error message is:

    “VFS: Root device: Prepare for Armageddon.”

    It wasn’t kidding, either; it usually meant that the device (typically a hard disk) was so screwed up that data loss was imminent.

  304. KIWI Says:

    I once had my machine begin to chime a classical tune (Fur Elise?) endlessly as I was coincidentally installing a program. It turned out my CPU fan had just failed and the motherboard was singing a warning for CPU temp out of range. I was completely unaware of this “feature” and believed my machine had become zombied or stoned because I was killing Window process to no avail.

    In the end, I ask, if they could make it sing why not simply announce “this is your motherboard speaking: warning CPU temperature error”?

  305. Lennart Says:

    IBM had a faked errormessage (just as a joke). It said: press any key to continue or any other key to quit.

  306. Dave Says:

    SAP R/3. Translated error to english.

    “You have bent it so far it has broken.”

  307. Leigh Says:

    I still remember a DEC RSTS/E BASIC error message that could appear:


  308. Skywise Says:

    My favourite from the good old BASIC days was:

    Unprintable error

    Was this a horrible error so bad that it’s name could not be spoken?
    Was BASIC about to say some swear and censored itself?
    Or (as was really the case) the error number out of range of the text messages in the error table.

  309. herd Says:

    In the NetBSD driver for the old 3Com Etherlink network cards there is a funny one. (Quote from the manual page)

    ep0: 3c509 in test mode. Erase pencil mark!
    This means that someone has scribbled with pencil in the
    test area on the card. Erase the pencil mark and reboot.
    (This is not a joke).

  310. Neil Obremski Says:

    Why it’s blue (probably): lots of DOS editors and programs, like Q-Basic, used a white-on-blue color scheme. I do believe it IS easier on the eyes than white-on-black.

  311. BlitzSieg Says:

    What about the ones that occur after you tell windows to shut down?

    You know:
    This application failed to initialize because Windows is shutting down.
    This program has stopped responding. Press end to end it now or wait 30 seconds.

    Um, hello? I already told you to shut down, why aren’t you doing it?

  312. Roberta Says:

    I assume the FailWhale logo is connected to Douglas Adams, who continues to inspire so many software developers. In ”The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” we find: “Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all probability a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet. And since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this poor innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity as a whale before it then had to come to terms with not being a whale any more. This is a complete record of its thoughts from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it.” The whale crashes to earth with all the speed that gravity would expect of it. Note that the logo looks more like a boxy-headed sperm whale than a streamlined a rorqual.

  313. invaderkong Says:

    How can you make a list of greatest error messages and not include Oracle errors?
    Messages that seem like random codes. that link to problems so generic you could rebuild the whole darn database faster then figuring out the error.

  314. Aaron Says:

    One of my favorites was I had a motherboard years back that when the CMOS battery was dead started playing the Fleur de Lise from the PC speaker constantly. It was a very weird error to be sure. Later found out that one of the people that coded the BIOS had put it in as a joke and only one production run actually had the error. Wish I had kept the board just for fun.

  315. Phobos282 Says:

    Actually, the windows shutdown error (#6) COULD be avoided. Start > Run > shutdown -a

    When the worm affected our network back then, we quickly found a workaround so that we could remove the worm from the network.


  316. MondayMorningMojo Says:

    From SAP/Business Objects Universe Designer…

    “Too many silly candidates”

  317. NullPointerException Says:

    Not sure if Java NullPointerException is one of the “greatest” error
    messages of all-time, but maybe it’s one of the dammdest. It’s
    ironice too because Java “does not have pointers.” Hmmm…

  318. GordU Says:

    Another MTS ism that would appear on the operators console just before a user’s session would dump.

    “Help Snark in MTS”

  319. Paul W. Homer Says:

    My favorite that stands out is:

    “Shut her down, Clancy, she’s pumping mud”
    – Texas Instruments DX10 OS kernel panic message

    Now that’s informative (unless you’re not Clancy and/or you’re not operating a drill pump).

  320. Frank G Tonin Says:

    WHen I was using WIndows XP once, b4 using Windows Vista Home Premium, I got this error message:

    You’re not supposed to be here!

    I’m NOT lying!!!

  321. Bruce Sanchez Says:

    The error I had most fun with was on the Vic 20 and Commodore 64
    If U attempted to load a file from disk with no disk drive fitted it would first inform you that it was trying to find the file then tell you it couldn’t find the floppy drive. As a result of which you could have lots of fun.


    Load”The Bosses Brain”,8,1

    would produce the following out put

    Searching for The Bosses Brain
    device not present error?

  322. Hugh Smith Says:

    I have a T shirt with the error message

    “Insufficient Memory at this time”

    Every year it get’s more apt. Anyone remember the device?

  323. MJS Says:

    There’s one burried in the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (branded as Timex in the USA) – I’ve never made it happen but if you dump the ROM and take a look there is the error…




  324. James Wyper Says:

    We used to run Lotus cc:mail on Windows 3.1 at work. It would frequently bring up an error dialog box showing an icon (a black exclamation mark in a yellow circle), an “OK” button – and nothing else. WTF?

  325. costmo Says:

    You forgot 2 of the best!

    1. On boot: “No Keyboard Attached. Press F1 to Continue.”

    2. From old UNIX (gcc?):
    $ make love
    make: don’t know hot to make love. stop

  326. ENyolc Says:

    My favorit:
    Human error change User.

  327. Johns Says:

    In Windows 3.1 we had a message that was too long to remember but I can remember a phrase, in spanish: “esta aplicación ha transgredido la integridad del sistema y se terminará”

    Translation will be something like “this application has transgressed system integrity and will finish”

    The first time I saw it i felt like… “OMG!”

  328. DRuNKeN MaSTeR Says:

    My current favorite is:

    “System in trouble.”

    IBM’s AIX says in case something is wrong, and shuts down immediately after it (something like kernel panic under Linux).

  329. krenshala Says:

    don’t have time to read all the (fun to read) errors already listed. apologize if someone already posted it.

    a bit of a techy error, as you can only get it while doing Windows troubleshooting of the IP stack (netsh int ip reset log.txt) you could get the error:

    An error has occurred that should never occur.

    And my personal favorite BSoD:

    An unknown exception has occurred in module unknown.

    I miss the Guru Meditation errors.

  330. Mitchell Allen Says:

    You’re in a maze of twisty passages, all alike.

  331. Larr Says:

    1983/4 Using a Harris-100 running Harris-VOS, compiling my very first COBOL program, and not knowing that a period was required on practically every line in COBOL.

    SYNTAX Error. Missing dot.

    It took me for… ever to figure out… that a ‘dot’ was a PERIOD.
    Since I had access to the system message libraries… I went in and changed the message to ‘Missing Period at end of sentence.’ So that the other students in the class wouldn’t be as confused as me.

    Years later… when using a VAX/VMS machine… I loved the fact that you could have aa combination of ‘fatal’ error messages

    %FATAL-I-{something}. {text} – Fatal message is (I)nformational
    %FATAL-W-{something}. {text} – Fatal message is just a (W)arning
    %FATAL-S-{something}, {text} – Fatal message is just a (S)evere error
    %FATAL-F-{something}, {text} – Fatal message is just a (F)atal error.

    Though I really don’t understand how Severe and Fatal are that different from each other.

  332. Miles Says:

    My favorite, outdated error is one we used to see on the Univac 1108 in the 70s. ER EABT$ (Error abort, more or less). We called them “hairy rabbits”.

    Mu current fave is the morse code that gets flashed out on the keyboard LEDs when Linux gets into certain kernel trashed modes (no, I’m not kidding).

  333. Walter Butler Says:

    I used to work for Southwest Technical Products Corporation (SWTPc), and
    they had a terminal called the X-12. It had an onboard voice synthesizer. If you misprogrammed something in the setup menu of the terminal, then on the next power-cycle a loud voice would announce “X twelve set up fail.”

  334. Taros Says:

    Not quite an error message, more of a notification, but if the system clock is changed to a previous time, while InspIRCd is running, it broadcasts this message:

    *** EH?! — Time is flowing BACKWARDS in this dimension! Clock drifted backwards x secs.

  335. Creston Says:

    The difference between Abort and Fail was really only ever noticeable in batch operations.

    Abort would actually abort the entire batch job you were running, whereas Fail or Ignore would skip the one line that was erroring and continue on to the next line, which sometimes allowed the batch to continue. (most of the times it wouldn’t, ofcourse.)

    Great article, awesome trip back through nostalgia. I had long since forgotten about the Guru Meditations my Amigas would throw up at me frequently.

  336. Spider_Queen Says:

    A long time ago in Brazil we were not allowed to import hardware nor software, and the big hardware manufacturers had to write their own code. A friend of mine, quite a potty mouth, wrote part of a Cobol compiler for the biggest computer manufacturer in the country. After the release of the compiler people started to call support because they were getting a message with the Portuguese equivalent of “Oh! s#!% happened”. It was my friend’s version of “command too complex”. I always searched for a list of four letter words before releasing any code he wrote, because he did NOT learn the lesson…

  337. llamah Says:

    XBMC error is a fave
    “Error: Success!” Also the Illegal operations I did as a kid were kind or confusing as a small kid. What you mean they know I borrowed this game from my friends??

  338. Tommy Says:

    I managed to provoke my Eudora 2.2 on a MacIntosh computer into telling me:

    There is no one listening to keystrokes at the moment.
    You might as well stop typing.

    By having a book on a corner of the keyboard.

  339. Dno Says:

    The best I have ever seen is about a year ago. I was working with a software team doing 3rd party java applications for mobile phones. One of the applications the did tried to launch one of the phones native applications. When it failed it displayed the pretty offending error message: “Could not find the native to execute.”

  340. vernes Says:

    20 something years ago, the warehouse started selling commedore 64.
    They were on display powered on, without anything preventing you from just typing on it.

    I started copying basic listings and trying them on them.
    Naturally I made many typo’s, and unaware of the impact even the smallest typo has on code, I could not understand why it always said:
    or somewhere.

    Eventually, I just removed the line of code in an attempt to fix it.
    And after removing 60% of the code, I walked away dissapointed.

  341. Bob Says:

    lp0 on fire (iirc) was due to a printer being offline, but somehow still printing.

  342. Lisa Says:

    You simply cannot beat Abort, Retry, Fail? for its utter worthlessness.

  343. FK Says:

    The new IT-manager at one of the companys i work with should log on to the old economy-system hosted on AS/400 for the first time, but got something wrong in the username or password and got promted “BAD USER” right in his face. That brougt up some laughs.
    What more is there to say, sometimes the systems seems to know a hole lot… 🙂

  344. Beppo Says:

    At one time I had to support an AS/400, and it gave some of the most cryptic and useless error messages ever, such as:

    User exit program processing error.

    value used in should be .

  345. Jertz Says:

    I love the Abort Retry Fail message. A Zen koan

  346. Zacharias Says:

    I work for IBM trouble-shooting Point-of-Sale registers and believe it or not POST-beeps are still fairly common!

  347. No Name Says:

    404 File Not Found is just stupid to have such a high ranking. It’s a common error message with nothing special to it. Bah.

    I am glad other voters agree, with 4th place, that Guru Meditation is much more special than the author thought.

    This article was obviously done by a PC fan. It should have included at least one error from C64 such as “?FORMULA TOO COMPLEX”.

    And the MacIntosh was far from cute. In fact, it’s so repulsive I felt I need to puke every time I even saw a picture of one.

    Nevertheless, it was an interesting read, especially on the background of those errors with which I wasn’t familiar before.

  348. rana verde Says:

    “Does not compute” means that a instructions can’t be processed due to a wrong value of the operands.
    For example 4/0 is a not computable instruction because it’s a indetermination and it doesn’t have a result.
    Basically it’s a fail in the assignation of the values of the variables.

  349. sparkes Says:

    R Tape loading error, 0:1

    ZX Spectrum loading errors.

  350. Magnus Says:

    I would like to add any error message ending with:

    “Please contact your system administrator”.

    No matter the program, no matter the error, contact your system administrator and he (or she) will surely fix it for you using some magic skills…

  351. Joel Says:

    Sadly, Apple continues to push useless error codes on its users like no other software company. They stopped using hexadecimal notation, but that is about it. In terms of errors (and error codes) iTunes is, by far, the worst software I have installed on my computer today.

    Anyway, I like this error message (Windows):
    “The maximum number of secrets that may be stored in a single system has been exceeded.”

    I have no idea what it means.

  352. kaveh Says:

    Abort, Retry, Fail? (MS-DOS). A similar error like this still exists in Window XP even. If you have a diskette drive installed and get a A: driver error the choices “continue”, “retry”, “cancel” is available to you. I guess it’s easier to understand these choices but I think the underlying functions are the same as the MS-DOS version.

  353. KGB from Sweden Says:

    I used a Siemens Medical Computer tomograph in 1995 and recieved a error code meaning, Earthquake! Going to Safe mode!
    The cause was a Forklift unloading heavy equipment outside the house.

  354. TbbW Says:

    i agree with Coutch!
    the ‘Keyboard error. Press F1 to continue’ is my nr2 after the amiga guru meditation.

    how culd one press F1 if the kboard errors? ( usaly hapens on old pc’s when u forgot to plug the kboard in or accidently plugged it in onto the ps2 mouse ).

  355. vFreak Says:

    I used to work on the helpdesk for a company that sold software to bakers. One of the programmers had put in one of my favourite error messages that would scroll slowly along the bottom of the screen…

    “Muppet Movie Beeker Error.”

    It meant nothing and would only happen at certain times around his birthday. The bakers would get most upset and panic about their software so we used to take the opportunity to wind them up a little before “fixing” it. The free cakes we got in appreciation were welcome though :).

  356. Steve J. Says:

    So many good ones from the early days:

    An early IBM 7094 FORTRAN compiler used to say “Beta table overflow” if you tried to do too many complicated things.

    The UNIX Ed editor used to say ‘eh?’ or just ‘?’ for just about anything that went wrong.

    The UNIX pr command would say ‘Very funny!’ when you screwed up some of the input arguments. It wasn’t…

    The UNIX PCC compiler once produced a message “gummy structure”…

    Early GE/Honeywell systems had a help subsystem. An error number would be produced, and you could type the number into the help system to get an explanation. As the system creaked into understanding (gasp!) lower case, it became evident that many of the error messages had o’s instead of 0’s in them. So an error message might have number o72. If you typed this into the help subsystem, it went bonkers, spewing random characters, changing the typewriter ribbon color several times, typing random characters, and ended by spewing a couple of yards of papter into your face before crashing utterly. Help, indeed…

  357. Neo Says:

    My absolute favorite ever (which still makes me chuckle) is a Windows error I got on XP once. It simply said “Error reading the error message” and had just an OK button… it.

  358. O'Maolchathaigh Says:

    To me, the worst ever has to be the power-on beeps; especially the 11 beeps. It sounded like self-destruct mode, and was as obnoxious as a fire alarm. Since the computer was useless at that moment, I wold shut it down immediately.

  359. g Says:

    Guru Meditation (Amiga) was popular, cool, and scary at the same time, while most others were just too technical and made from boring people with business backgrounds. I would agree that “Syntax Error” should get mentioned too.

  360. Atis Says:


  361. Kattemanden Says:

    Kattevand er også godt

  362. Kattemanden Says:

    Kattevand er godt det kan jeg godt lide jajajajaja 😀 meget meget godt wuuuuuhaaaaaa jaaaah jeg elsker kattevand. Mmmmmm det ba såååå godt. Syns i ikk det? det syns jeg ihverttifælde haha. du sød hej hej. med katte på .

  363. Inder P Singh Says:

    Actually, I was able to use the Abort, Retry, Ignore? (MS-DOS) error message usefully to an extent. I remember encountering this error when copying files from a floppy disk to a fixed (hard) disk or from one logical drive to another. Pressing (A)bort would cancel the command, I would re-insert the floppy disk and press (R)etry and press (I)gnore to simply copy what I could salvage on the floppy disk.

    Inder P Singh

  364. @9.99Ghz Says:

    Great.I heard of this blog from a friend.I am searching for configuration for a desktop with quad core processors.Plz Guide me. also tell me should i go for 45nm process or 65 nm will do. Thanks in advance

  365. Matt Says:

    Juggler314 is wrong as well. That’s the Port Authority Bus Terminal, at SW corner of 42nd & 8th Ave. Penn Station is down at 33rd and 7th, beneath Madison Square Garden.

    Have seen BSODs and other error messages on many Times Square boards over the years. NASDAQ and Reuters seem to be prone to them…

  366. noexcusesbehavior Says:

    ahhh, my favorite the blue screen of death *has warm fuzzy feelings*

  367. willie Says:

    My favorite was an error I saw on my old PowerBook, running 10.2.8, when I tried to boot off a CD with only iMac drivers. It kernel paniced, and the end of a long block of gibberrish was “panic: We are hanging here…”
    It’s those little touches that make computers so interesting sometimes. And frusturating.

  368. Mike Says:

    It’s not Penn Station, either. It’s the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

  369. Cadence Says:

    I thought the best error message was the lack of error message I got when trying to continue reading this article. Clicking next or on any of the next pages just brings the same page up again. ie: Your wordpress appears to be stuffed or something.

  370. Rod B Says:

    “AutoCAD gives up” was a great one when the DOS version of AutoCAD crashed.

  371. Says:

    Back in 1985, we had a variety of mini-mfs to work with. Our products generated a few interesting errors, but my favorite of all time came after an unresolved variable call, which resulted in a 76-page dump file, at the top of which read “Error during crawl out.”

    Like, from under a rock.

  372. Buy Electronics Says:

    Windows has encountered an error and needs to close. We apologize for any inconvenience.

  373. drbunsen Says:

    “Bluets and Granola make a crunchy treat”
    “Guess we just found out what BETA means”

    Both of these were boot errors on 68k Mac Powerbooks.

  374. DaVince Says:

    “Only a woman could be that stupid when it came to computers. Go back to hiding under your bed n00b.”

    Are you an idiot? Since when did gender REALLY matter when it comes to ability? She was a kid, and children generally have little experience with these things, especially in the past.

  375. DaVince Says:

    “Not only are all “add-ons” enabled, but WTF is with “add-on?” is this microspeak for plugin? what’s wrong with plugin? everybody else in the world informally convened and agreed to use “plugin” to mean plugin. why does microsoft unnecessarily complicating things have to run into to vocabulary too ? i want an answer on this choice of word – “add-on.””

    Firefox uses the term “add-on” to describe the whole collection of extensions, themes and plugins installed on your system, so I don’t see what’s wrong with the term. Plugins are a different things from extensions/add-ons because they are usually coming from an external source to provide functionality – like DLLs or .so libraries for Flash or Java. I’m not sure about IE add-ons, but FF extensions are using special internal languages specific to the browser (like XUL) and are usually only compatible with that browser.

  376. DaVince Says:

    The NullPointerException in Java happens when code is pointing to a null value somewhere, which might have something or nothing to do with *pointers as most people know them. References are usually still pointers too, so a = b; b = 4; makes a have a value of 4…

  377. djkrugger Says:

    on windows

    "IO error . Cyclic redundancy error cannot copy the drive E is not ready. OK" all that means "there is a fingerprint on your CDrom".

  378. limey Says:

    yeah, the keyboard one that has been mentioned a few times already would get my vote and I was dissapointed not to see it on the list.

    Another which always makes me laugh is the following message that a system I work with occasionally throws up. Bear traps and suicide, how wonderful!

    Error: dm_bear_trap: Unexpected exception, (Mon Jun 17 16:10:47 2002 NT Exception: Exception Address: 1000485a, ACCESS_VIOLATION at (Connection Failure)), during new session creation in module C:dmnewrpcnetwiseserverdmapply.cxx after line 482. Commiting suicide!

  379. Nate Says:

    One of my favorites:

    “tar: Cowardly refusing to create an empty archive”

  380. Lettie Says:

    I encountered on the IBM 1130 using FORTRAN IV with commercial subroutines the best error messages of all time. The “F” errors were displayed on a console, and the easiest way to know what they meant was to memorize them.

    I don’t remember all of them now, but F101 was the one I got most frequently — File record too large, equal to zero, or negative. Another one was F10A — Subscripting has destroyed the Define File Table. This occurs when a subscript exceeds the specification in a DIMENSION statement.

    The error messages were actually quite informative, but it did make you feel like a complete dolt to get one!

  381. seremina Says:

    I wish the 404: File Not Found error would stop sounding like the whole internet got killed. The internet is much more than one file, so the error should say

    “Either that website or url is mistyped, wrong, crashed, missing, or dead. Please check your spelling and try again. If it still does not work, try a different website or url.”

  382. Justin Says:

    I personally like

    “Error 17”

    produced by GRUB at boot.

  383. J Says:

    Here are some nice messages that I’ve run into…

    “Incompetent user error” IIRC was quite common with Lotus Notes (versions around 4)
    “The computer is busy, please wait” on Windows versions in the 95 product line. Like, “hey, I’ve got better things to do than those you want me to do” or something.

    And, the best:
    “An error occurred because an error occurred”
    Can’t remember the exact occasion, but it was on Mac OS (version 6 or 7) while connecting to internet using a dialup connection.

  384. Sean Says:

    They have entire websites dedicated to these now. Like mine.

  385. Mary McI Says:

    It ain’t Times Square, but it ain’t Penn Station neither.
    It is the Port Authority Building on 8th Avenue.
    See similar photo at

    Penn Station (ver. 2.0) is underneath Madison Square Garden (ver. 3.0)
    on 7th Avenue and 32-34th Streets.
    Times Square is where each New Year officially begins.

  386. Richfiles Says:

    From Mac OS 9:
    The command could not be completed, because you have already chosen Shut Down or Restart.
    Wait until the computer finishes shutting down or restarting, or quit all applications and choose Shut Down or Restart again.

  387. Stadium X Says:

    [EDIT] The entry 11, the Red Screen of Death, is also known to occur in video game consoles. The Playstation 2 has this SoD.

  388. Carpe_Mofo Says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with pirated music and movies, I download both all the time, and you know what? I buy more stuff like that than I ever did before I started pirating, and if I haven’t bought something I think is worth paying for, it’s simply because I can’t afford it so they wouldn’t be getting my money either way. I just spent 400 dollars on all four seasons of doctor who which I also have as downloaded divx. I’ve even bought software, couldn’t deal with the copy protection, so downloaded a cracked version so I wouldn’t have to. I don’t think the RIAA or MPAA is really losing money from pirating, I think they are losing money by being lazy and not putting out worthy content. The book publisher Baen realizes this, so you know what they do? They put there books online for free download expecting the extra word of mouth from people trying books they nessacarily wouldn’t have risked there money on then telling friends about it who buy it. The first time I read Ender’s Game was a prirated copy I downloaded, now I own 5 copies of the book in different editions. So for me at least, it works.

  389. Carpe_Mofo Says:

    Wrong article.

  390. David Whitehouse Says:

    Back in the days (Early 1980s) Texas Instruments produced minicomputers (the TI-990). They developed a Forms package, cleverly named “TI-Forms”.
    It was possible to get an Error Message of “Shut ‘er down Clancy, she’s a pumpin’ mud’ [an old Texas old field saying]. Not only could you get the message, it was even documented – apparently it had slipped by the proof reader.

  391. emall Says:

    Windows 7 still BSoDs, don’t worry. It’s going nowhere 😀

  392. Ed Says:

    How could you forget the Windows 95 classic? “This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down. If the problem persists, contact the program vendor.” And the more clueless the user, the more worried they are that something illegal has happened on their watch.

  393. Adam Says:

    How about the good old Rundll32 errors?

  394. Chris Says:

    Who cares about BSOD?? What about C64’s “SYNTAX ERROR” ? Or “FORMULA TOO COMPLEX ERROR”?? .. here the others:

  395. shawn Says:

    Mac OS, “The application has unexpectedly quit!”

  396. BatGnat Says:


    This is my all time favourite, meaning your Boot Hard drive has no active partitions of course….

  397. chris Says:

    The amiga Guru meditation codes were designed to debug said messages, often times they told you what failed, when, why, and how.

    The guru part of it was a in-joke to the programmers, which there are a few Easter eggs in the OS anyway. but the gurus were the core OS coders, who more or less knew every detail in and out of the hardware.

    There was a specific format to that, but I’ve forgotten it years ago. Though, it’s probably on wikipedia.

  398. Bryan Says:

    I remember back the when the Atari ST was in full swing you would get a set of bombs when she crashed

    I had a MegaSTe

  399. Doc Says:

    The “PC LOAD LETTER” error is from HP LaserJet printers; it means the Paper Cassette (lower tray) is empty, and to LOAD 8 1/2 x 11 (LETTER size) paper into it.

  400. asma Says:

    the thirteen greastest error massage is the best thing

  401. Oh Hai Says:

    Hahahaha. Best one I’ve ever gotten was also the simplest.


    Yes? No?”

    Click yes, and the computer logically gives you the error again, if you don’t want the error, you simply click no, and it goes away. xD

  402. Yiying Lu Says:

    Hi, I’m the creator if the Fail Whale image. I’m a “She” btw 🙂

    for more info on why fail whale image has to do with a Web 2.0 service buckling under extreme traffic – here is the website:

    most of the info are there. Thanks & Regards.

  403. Harry McCracken Says:

    Dear Yiyeng Lu: Thanks! I know -you’re- a she–what I wasn’t sure about was whether the failwhale was male or female…


  404. Old Tom Unicorn Says:

    I remember the days when my grandson bought an Amiga 500, and the trials and tribulations we had with Workbench 1.3.

    When he struggled to open any programs, I was faintly amused by the ‘Carry On…’ nature of this error message:

    ‘Unable to open your tool’.

    They don’t do error messages like that anymore. 🙁

  405. John Says:

    I swear to god at some point a shitty Apple boox once said…

    “Ha Ha its happened again hasn’t it”

  406. Bryan Lee Says:

    I’ve had Windows 7 beta build 7000 bluescreen on me twice already! LOL =P

  407. Violator Says:

    “Out of memory” was more common the a bsod

  408. RBurleson Says:

    Motorola Mainframe; Basic on a teletype, ’70’s or ’80’s; “Load Module Does Not Exist”

  409. K. Venus Boyd Says:

    Hi Harry,
    What is the message Error 1606 could not access dataapp? And how do you fix it?

  410. Nathan Says:

    1. Years ago at school I tried to listen to a CD – “Master of Puppets” by Metallica – in a Mac. System 8, I know it was after 7 and before X and pretty sure it wasn’t 9 because I almost completely missed that one. Long story. Anyhow, as I loaded the CD up in the media player and it began playing, MacOS asked me if I wanted to format the disc! I clicked OK to humor it, but then it seemed serious. Like it was ready to format a 640MB CD-ROM to the Mac format. And this was before burners! I have no idea how that all came about, but I canceled it and continued to listen to the CD.

    2. I would swear the Guru Meditation story was nicked off me at some point. Not sure if I ever blogged about it, but that’s one of my favorite geek stories to tell. We had two Commodore-Amigas growing up – the 1000 and then the 2000. My dad swore up and down Apple and Microsoft would fall before Commodore. Yeah, we all see how that went. But almost nobody else had Amigas who I knew growing up. So one day we have some people over, and we go to put on the Prevue Channel (what it was before TV Guide bought them out) and it was frozen with the Guru Meditation error. Nobody knew what it was but me. But the Prevue Channel was national, maybe even international, and if it ran on Amigas everywhere, it’s entirely likely a lot of people saw Guru Meditation errors on their televisions, not just me.

  411. jane Says:

    I got a nice error message You don’t exist go away

  412. Lost Says:

    And how about error message in Lost ?

  413. William Says:

    You forgot to include the one that says: No keyboard detected, press any key to continue..

    Lol,, funny as heck !

  414. Chris Says:

    I walked into a Best Buy last fall and saw this Kernel Panic on their big screen behind the Apple display. It had been like that for 3 and a half hours when I shot this pic.
    The manager of the store didn’t seem too worried.

  415. Erti K Says:

    BeOS used to (correction, still has!) to have Error 404 haiku’s which were varied every time you got the error. I supposed all the websites which feature Haiku’s were inspired from this, or re-inspired by someone who visited a site inspired by BeOS’s cute messages. You could install BeOS in less than 5 minutes. You could be on the internet hours ahead of Installing windows 3.1 or 3.11, going to the ISP’s dialup BBS, downloading the Win32 Extensions to make windows 3 a 32-bit os ( which included Freecell as its demo of whether Win32 was working). Then you download Trumpet Winsock which added a TCP/IP stack to windows 3, and then finally downloading NETSCAPE Navigator. Of course this process is somewhat anachronistic, Beos came out for the Mac and PC after windows95 but it was a good multimedia os for it’s time and ran fast on anything, even multiprocessing server computers that windows 95 could only use the single processor. BeOS could use up to 64 processors on a single computer and was available for more than just pc’s and macs. It was going to be THE OS for anything that wanted on the internet, like these new smartphones or your where you kept your beer. ( “hello, tony’s pony keg?” “yes?” “good, this is matt brady’s refrigerator, I’m out of beer and dont want to upset matt, can you send someone with three cases of XXXX brand cervesa so we wont have an argument when he gets home?” “thank you, it seems some people have hacked into the windows-running house computer and let themselves in and are now drinking all my beer” “oh by the way, do you know a good carpet cleaning service” “oh yes,of course, actually I’m on the other line with the police now sending them scans of fingerprints I scanned off my doorlatch. Dont need it right away, just about two hours from now, the police will be leaving and wont be able to drink the new beer.”

  416. Josh Says:

    where is google chrome’s,

    “Aw, Snap!” error message?

  417. gnp kumar Says:

    when i switch on my computer it boots and shutdown immediately and giving error message”THE CPU WAS PROPERLY SHUTDOWN DUE TO THERMAL EVENT (Overheating)

  418. Joyce Beck Says:

    I have a screen print over my desk of a little gem from MS Access having a little tussle with an ODBC driver: “There was a problem sending the command to the program”. What problem? Which command? Which program? Do you think it would it make life too easy for me if you gave me some kind of sodding clue?

  419. David James Says:

    My votes for greatest error messages of all time have to go to:

    “boo dee DEE — The number you have dialed — five, five, five, one, two, one, two — is not in service. Please check the number and try your call again.”

    In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, this message ended with:
    “If you need further assistance, please ask your operator. This is a recording.” This part was back when operators were actually available as easily as a single key press (”0″), and people were so unaccustomed to hearing prerecorded voices that they might attempt to engage in a conversation with it.

    There is a strong possibility that this may be the most commonly encountered error message ever (so far), with one exception:

    THE BUSY SIGNAL. Universally known, but slightly different sounding from country to country. The busy signal was useful shorthand for “you can’t call that number because that phone is off the hook.” Which was fortunate, because why call someone, if they are already talking to someone else? It made perfect sense in the days before voice mail.

    I believe this qualifies as an error message, because it indicated that the request was abandoned, and the device needed to be re-booted before another attempt was made.

  420. sawaff Says:

    The picture of the BSoD from NYC isn’t in Times Square or Penn Station. It is on the front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal at the corner of 42nd and 8th Ave.

  421. Jarrett Says:

    When coding C++ in Visual Studio 2005 I got an error that said “Error: Looks like a function body” the line it took me to was indeed (and supposed to be) a function body. I don’t know what it’s problem was but the good old Clean/rebuild fixed it.

  422. blogdx Says:


  423. waterpup Says:

    BSOD is anything but a “Rock Band” and BSOD stands for Better Sounding On Drugs not Blue Screen of Death. All this is available on th elink to their MySpace page you provided

  424. blogdx Says:

    it’s funny

  425. ruby Says:


  426. Rhino Junior Says:

    My favourite error from working with gcc:
    confused by earlier errors, bailing out

  427. Tux Says:

    I’m sorry… “lp0 on fire” is by far the best. It’s the only one on the list that actually implies physical harm is possible.

    In an internally-developed website where I work, we’ve got a really good one that goes something like this:

    “The System has encountered a serious error. Whoops!”

  428. andy r Says:

    $Extend$UsnJrnl:$J. the data has been lost. This error may be caused by a
    failure of your computer hardware or network connection. Please try to
    save this file elsewhere.

    I thought this was funny, asking me to save a file that has already been lost … 🙂

  429. Toy Says:

    Nice blog & helpful

  430. Weldon Says:

    The best error message I have seen came up at random times on a friend’s Atari 520ST (like TOS 0.24 for something, beta). It was:
    “Please insert film into your Polaroid camera”

    From what I know, Atari was working with Polaroid on a product, but it never amounted to anything.

  431. Justin Davidow Says:

    just a quick comment about this list:

    #6) “Windows computers suddenly told them that something called the RPC service had died and began a countdown to a forced reboot which couldn’t be avoided.”

    can be simply avoided 99.99999% of the time with a simple run of ‘shutdown -a’ gives you the time to diagnose the system and see what’s going on.

    I’ve never understood why nobody ever knows about this?

  432. Justin Says:

    If you haven’t yet seen The Daily WTF (, you should check it out. One of the fairly regular front-page features is various stupid error messages, of which publicly-projected BSoDs are the mildest. 🙂

    I disagree with you slightly on one point, though: while hexadecimal error codes aren’t *directly* useful to most users, just typing an error code into google (along with a bit of context like “bsod” or “stop error”) will often get you considerably closer to solving the problem. While not all users will know to do that (and quite honestly, we shouldn’t even have to in the first place), it is a better option than flailing around in the dark.

    Good list, I enjoyed it and learned a few things as well.

  433. Gordon Schumacher Says:

    In the category of “errors that aren’t really errors”, particularly scary ones… I used to keep a virus zoo on a collection of Amiga floppies. And then one day, I got hit by the “Lazarus Virus”…

    …left me wondering, “How the $%*@!* did I, of all people, manage to get a virus?!?”

  434. Draeconis Says:

    There was always one I liked by RealPlayer where it would display a picture in the bottom right saying ‘This picture could not be displayed’.

  435. baqs Says:

    Older versions of KDE played the sound of glass breaking when an error message was displayed. Probably one of the most nerve wrecking error sounds you can get!

  436. annon Says:

    the real question is to send error report or not to send error report.

    or is there a diference?

  437. Sunshine Says:

    Neopets has awesome 404s. They used to have better ones, but that’s pretty much the call of the community, “it was better back then.”

    Refresh it, it says new things and has new pet silhouettes.

  438. jasonology Says:

    I have made a flickr set of crazy and poorly written dialog boxes- Mac OS X mostly.
    Have a look at

  439. Michael_Imperfection Says:

    My two favorite errors are

    1. The windows ERROR ERROR which happened to me when an Error message started to appear froze and then another Error message popped up that was called an ERROR Error and said “There was a problem displaying the ERROR” and had the choices of O.K. and Cancel but cancel was whited out.

    2. The next was the BLANK Error that I got after mozilla, photoshop, task manager, and windows explorer crashed that came up and didn’t say anything but had the options of O.K. and Cancel. When I clicked on cancel I received my first ever BSoD.

    OH I actually have a picture of the BLANK Error.

  440. Jackybird Says:

    Maybe somebody’s already said this, but that’s not Penn Station. I think it’s the Port Authority. I looks like it’s taken from the northeast cornor of 42nd and 8th.

  441. OHaleck Says:

    Errors are sometimes erroneous too. I cannot see the Hulu error video because I am not in the U.S. (freakin’ copyrights) and the BSOD screensaver just tells me that SetDisplayMode FAILED!!

  442. Mike Atha Says:

    BIOS LBA Support is a great error to encounter.

  443. P Smith Says:

    It’s not error messages that have infuriated me the most, not even the annoying “Guru meditation” on my Amiga 500. Why got my goat was Microshaft blaming users for their own poor programming. After rebooting from a crash, Lose95 and Lose98 would state:

    “Windows was not shut down properly.”

    Microshaft was inferring that it was the user’s action, not a crash by the operating system despite the fact that was the cause 99.99% of the time. If Bill Gates were to be smacked in the face with a frying pan for every instance where he blamed the users for his OS’s crashes, he would have been dead years before USB was a gleam in anyone’s eye.

    There was an old joke in the 1990s about Windoze and crashes that was based on a fact. Windoze would count in 32 bits, one bit for every second. Doing the math, 2^32-1 bits would equal or 49.7 days. In other words, if Windoze were left running for 49.7 days, it would crash.

    Windoze 95 could run for seven weeks without crashing? It could barely manage seven hours.

  444. Dave Says:

    In DOS when the computer would lock up you would get what my buddies and I called the Black Screen Of Death. A void where nothing can come back from. Black and Death go hand in hand and when WIndows 95 came along the “Blue” SoD just took over without skipping a beat.

  445. Mike Says:

    That’s not either Times Square or Penn Station – it’s the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.

  446. C.J. Says:

    MaOS 8 (perhaps 7) had a humourous error nobody seems to know about:

    “The alias file couldn’t be used because it isn’t really an alias. (whoops)”

    It may have said “oops” instead of “whoops” but that’s the gist of it. Maybe someone with an OS8 machine could go digging for this?

  447. Marcos Says:

    You forgot one, from Linux kernel:

    Kernel panic: I have no root and I want to scream


  448. tenar72 Says:

    Best error message ever was in an alpha version public domain game many years ago, I don’t remember the exact wording but it said something like “f*ck yourself in the knee, stop eating my pizzas and write proper error messages!”

  449. dofollow bookmark Says:

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  450. Billborden Says:

    When your looking at classic 404 errors, you have to include 4-chan’s, check this one out:

    Also, they have a great 403 message to:

  451. Arroxane Says:

    You forgot one unforgettable error message:

    “Malfunction: need input!”

    Number Five is alive! 😉

  452. Garrett AiResearch Says:

    Mid 80’s Unisys @FTN compiler:Error within an errorandHelp! I’m confused!

  453. Garrett AiResearch Says:

    Am I the only idiot who typed html into this thing?

    Mid 80’s Unisys @FTN compiler:

    Error within an error


    Help! I’m confused!

  454. ReynaldoRiv Says:

    Don’t mean to nitpick but in the Lost in Space Error message you should have put the word gyndroid instead of android, unless of course she was what is referred to on the net as a Trap.

  455. Joe Says:

    I was told, second- or third-hand, of an error message on old TI machines, from the heart of oil country: “Shut ‘er down, Clem. She’s a-pumpin’ mud.”.

  456. anonymous Says:

    If I recall, with the advent (well use) of the ps/2 port, the keyboard error became basically useless, because the system had to be turned off before plugging in the keyboard. (Not sure, it’s been quite a few years since I have used an actual ps/2 keyboard.)

  457. Jon Says:

    The FailWhale is actually extremely representative of Twitter issues. The birds represent users, the “ropes” are threads of conversation, and the FailWhale is the error happily dragging them down.

  458. Seth Asa Says:

    My mother got the following error message on her Mac laptop:

    “It’s Not My Fault”

    Which prompted her to ask, “Well whose fault is it, then?”

    I don’t know what model of Mac it was but she actually called me to tell me about this error message. And she still really likes her Mac. I dig PC’s. And, somehow, we’re still able to communicate and laugh together like civilized adults…

  459. Marcus Says:

    My all time favorite came out of an extinct accounting system called ResMax. I was updating some journal entries and everything halted with the error message ‘Error: Total CRAP”. Checking with the programmer it turned out that it was a concatonated error message that should have read ‘Error: Total Credit Applied’ but the error handler stack was from the ‘CR’ routine and then the ‘AP’ routine, hence the insulting error message.

  460. qwazix Says:

    Well, that’s embarrassing (firefox 3.5+)
    Oops! there is an error (something about that – Gmail)
    ppl still create nice error messages

  461. BobbyB Says:

    I got one.
    “Syntax Error”, from the old Commodore 64 computer.

  462. Fairportfan Says:

    An acquaintance who now works for MS on Windows once worked for a company that built custom OSes.

    On one project, there was an *extremely* unlikely error that they coud not imagine actually occurring in the field. So the error message read: “You are screwed.”

    Less than a week after the OS was delivered (as i recall), the (very religious, moralistic and strait-laced) client managed to see it…

  463. The Old Wolf Says:

    Having programmed IBM mainframes, my vote is for “0C5”, the most information-less code ever devised. A mysterious man named Dan Nessett once wrote this bit of doggerel, which perfectly describes the situation, methinks.

    “I Was Wondering About This Error Message,” I said

    Beneath my stare began to blur
    10,000 lines of print.
    Buried alive by 0C5
    Which gave not clue nor hint.

    Up from my chair, I neard the lair
    Branded “Consultants’ Room.
    With puzzled gaze I paraphrased
    My mind’s perplexing gloom.

    “That bilious sty of wire,” said I,
    “Has dumped its DUMP on me.
    I cannot guess where in that mess
    I’ll find the missing key.”

    “The clues are everywhere,” he said.
    And I began to think
    Of : “Water, water everywhere
    But not a drop to drink.”

    “Aha!” said he, “Your DCB
    Has lost BUFL.
    MSHI is far to high
    And BLKSIZE looks not well.”

    “BLDL in this case will
    Cause 0C5 or 4.
    To BSP hex ‘503’
    Will backspace low cost store.”

    “You FREEMAIN twice and GETMAIN once’
    This cannot be advised.
    And all of this, I’m positive
    Has caused your 0C5.”

    My jaw had slackened to my knees;
    A fly flew in my mouth.
    I gathered up my SYSUDUMP
    And crawled off in a slouch.

    Back to my desk; I placed to rest
    My chin upon my hand.
    My weary eyes seemed quite surprised
    To gaze on print again.

    Beneath my stare began to blur
    10,000 lines of print.
    Buried alive by 0C5
    Which gave not clue nor hint.

    -Dan Nessett

  464. Per Helge Seglsten Says:

    My company gave us these HP (Hewlett Pacard) iPAQ Voice Messenger mobile phones which apparently had more flaws than functions. The best of the error messages from those little buggers read: "The phone is turned off. Do you want to turn it on?"
    And then you had to turn it off…to turn it on.

  465. Mike Says:

    That's not Penn Station either, its the Port Authority.

  466. mike Says:

  467. kfsone Says:

    "Dick Fell". What exactly would your reaction be when your system promptly shut down leaving you only with these two words and a prompt?

    And the error was persistent. The client was running an aged Commodore Pet installation, and the error was narrowed down to a single machine. It had developed a fault in the IO controller resulting in a single bit error.

    It was, infact, trying to report the message "Disk Full".

  468. Echyld72 Says:

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  469. cub Says:

    Since you mentioned Windows 7, sure–Nortel VPN Client reliably bluescreens W7.

    The same things that always caused BSOD still happen: sloppy code in drivers and hardware glitches.

  470. Gavster Says:

    The BSOD in windows can actually be colour changed by you. There is a settings file which contains the colours which will be used when the screen appears. This is to cater for people with certain vision impairments.

  471. Raven Says:

    There is a regedit you can do to change the color of your BSoD too.

  472. Tim at IMM Says:

    I would say the bomb error was a far more famous error on the Mac than the Sad Mac. I read that the designer of the error, Susan Kare, was given free creative expression in designing the error and so she created the bomb icon. It threw some users into a tizzy, because they saw the computer as not only failing them but mocking them in the process.

  473. Mark Says:

    I have number 14, right here at your website:
    "Waiting for"
    Each one of these pages takes eons to load. I can't stand the thought of even going past the third page. Get a new survey company.

  474. Mike Says:

    Interesting that the Red Screen Of Death must have been in the spell-checker.

    "Exectuion" ?

  475. Ian Says:

    A small nit, but "Lpo" is wrong. It should be "lp0" (lower case of "LP", followed by the digit "0" for the first line printer, 1 for the second, 2 for the third…).

  476. Alex Says:

    Embedded youtube video of BSoD taunting Bill Gates: An error occurred, please try again later.

  477. Paul Says:

    Ah, surely the best error message of all time would be produced by an Acorn BBC Microcomputer (circa 1983) in response to the user inputting an illogical mathematical problem. The error message, in simple white text on a black background was:


  478. jazmatazz Says:

    how if the WORLD do you write a story like this without including "this program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down"?

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  480. HPdv7 Says:

    What about the SSBBOD? the Super! Spinning! Beach Ball! Of! Death!!!

  481. Vinnie Bartilucci Says:

    “I’d be amazed if Windows Seven doesn’t bluescreen from time to time.”

    It does. I got one playing Sim City 4 and jumping too fast from program to program – the sound and video cards just gave up.

  482. M!3 R!4N Says:

    i agree with this : "Keyboard Error, Press F1 to continue"
    how we can press f1 button when the keyboard error?

  483. Allen G. Says:

    That last BSOD photo is actually located at Port Authority on 42nd and 8th. I live a few blocks from there, and have seen a BSOD on that very screen.

  484. Ken Johnson Says:

    Microsoft Word (2003?) would give me a error message during routine operation of ‘could not get instance of redemption’. I briefly considered if my software had gotten religion. Also, I recommended to a friend that he name his band Instance Of Redemption.

  485. Ezekiel Says:

    Most flabbergasting: the ever-so-helpful "An error has occurred." (Or simply "Error!") No details on what the error was, where it occurred, how to diagnose it, or what to do about it. Just remembering it makes my blood boil. Over the years I've seen it (and others like it) on too many systems to list.

    Most humorous: On unix, "cat" was used to output the contents of a file to the screen. Tell the C shell "cat food", and you'll get "cat: cannot open food"

    And of course imagine running a PDP10 app in a nuclear facility and seeing the all-too-common:

    ?PDL overflow. Core dumped.

  486. Perr Xardestam Says:

    I cut my teeth in programming on an IBM 1130. My favorite error message was "M13 – Execution suppressed". The system allowed you to look up "M13" in a list for detailed explanation. Result:
    "Execution was suppressed because the system detected a condition that would prevent successful execution".

  487. Shof Says:

    I was working as a software engineer for Sony during the early 90s. We were converting some software written in Japan to run on some newer Sony machines. The best error ever was

    "Fetal Error… Abort"

  488. tech84 Says:

    I though the worst error would be:

    "No keyboard detected, press any key to continue…."


  489. Arvid Says:

    My favorite has always been "Something Happened" a rare but frustrating error message in Final Cut Pro.

  490. Jeremy David Thomson Says:

    waiting for

    waiting for

    waiting for

    waiting for

    waiting for

    waiting for

    waiting for

    See how you like it? Get rid of, it slows down the loading each page for a good 10-20 seconds.

  491. Jeremy David Thomson Says:

    Okay, contacted & they don't use flash which is what I disabled to get some response from your site. Today its not freezing up for 20 seconds, you can actually scroll so I guess the offending flash (advertisement) has been removed.

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  494. Dan Says:

    the 404 error just means the IE8 settings are wrong:
    turn on "automatically detect settings"

  495. Steve Says:

    I am surprised no one mentioned this one,

    “This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down”

  496. Says:

    The best I have ever seen is about a year ago. I was working with a software team doing 3rd party java applications for mobile phones. One of the applications the did tried to launch one of the phones native applications. When it failed it displayed the pretty offending error message: "Could not find the native to execute."

  497. Says:

    nice info.. thanks for sharing

  498. Edward Cherlin Says:

    The best error message I ever got was from a Windows Beta many years ago. I’m sorry that I have forgotten which version. When I went to shut down Paint, with nothing else running, it said

    Insufficient memory to quit

  499. menyc Says:

    The picture labeled "And Times Square Penn Station (photo by Chad Dickerson)" is, in fact neither Times Square nor Penn Station. It's the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

  500. Dave K Says:

    stack overflow anyone?

  501. mrz80 Says:

    BDOS Err on A: – RO

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  515. Office design Says:

    This Blue Screen of Death (perhaps better known as the BSOD) from a Windows 98/Windows 98SE/Windows ME operating system indicates the worst. And it's become the best known and most spoofed error message of all-time.

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  517. sewa kantor Says:

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  520. hotel murah Says:

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  521. weinfass Says:

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  523. Just A Random Person Says:

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