27 old-school computer error screens that will fill you with anxiety
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Welcome to our gallery of digital nightmares
For as long as there have been computers, there have been computer crashes — terrible, inconvenient, work-deleting crashes.
But in this gallery, we celebrate the computer error — Blue Screen of Death and inexplicable warning window alike … if you can suppress your anxiety long enough to click through it, that is.
Windows 1 has crashed
In its earliest Windows 1 form, the “Blue Screen of Death” was just a jumble of unreadable nonsense.
The 'Sad Mac'
It’s never a good sign when your computer has ‘X’s for eyes.
This unhappy little fellow dates back to 1984, when the Macintosh 128K was released.
Apple set up us the bomb
Seeing the classic Mac “bomb” was never a good sign.
Atari ST bombs
The Atari ST (circa 1985) used bombs as an error screen, as well.
The number of bombs shown corresponds to an error code — here, four bombs means “illegal instruction.”
MSDOS read error
ERROR: Computer is way too old for this nonsense.
Even Amigas crash
Here’s some old-school cool: Error screens from 1980s-era Commodore Amigas feature their own inside joke.
Apparently, early builds crashed so often that programmers would try to calm themselves with “Zen Meditation” during the reboot. This involved balancing motionless on an Amiga Joyboard peripheral for as long as possible without suffering a “Mediation Error.”
Someone get Billy Gates on the phone; Netscape Navigator ain’t workin’ right.
Windows 95 Data Link error
You’d better look into that.
Excel: Too broken to quit
I wish I knew how to quit you. 🙁
The Windows 98 ... RED screen of death?
Check it out: This is a special experimental “Red Screen of Death” found in early test versions of Windows 98.
Windows 95 free disk space error
You know things are bad when you don’t even have the free disk space to delete stuff anymore.
The 'Sad iPod'
Time to buy a new iPod.
Windows ME Ghost Error
Something went wrong. Somewhere. With something.
Windows 2000 Blue Screen of Death
Windows 2000 brought the Blue Screen of Death screaming into the 21st century.
Already? That was quick ...
You’ve got some big problems. Fortunately, those problems do not exist.
Windows CE Blue Screen of Death
If you will try …
The XP Error Cascade
Our favorite Windows XP game? It’s a tossup between Hearts and “Can You Close These Error Windows Faster Than They Can Flood Your Screen?”
Win XP is still ruining your day, 10 years later
We’ll get you your coffee and donuts right after we’re done dealing with tech support. Thanks for your patience.
Windows Task Manager (Not Responding)
When Windows Task Manager stops responding, it’s time to just throw your computer out the window and declare it the start of a long weekend.
It was an exciting time for technology when error screens spread from our computers to our phones.
Windows Vista error
Looks like we’ve got a Vistaster on our hands.
The non-error error
In our story’s surprising climax, the lead error warning is stunned to learn that it has become the error itself.
Keyboard failure at the airport
Flight 908 to Portland is ready to board. Please press F1 to continue.
Windows 8 crash
Hey look, everyone. It’s just one of Windows 8’s many, many problems!
Mac OS X not-so-Blue Screen of Death
Uh oh. Something has gone wrong with your Mac.
Apple's most disheartening error of them all
Uh oh — now it’s serious.
This “prohibitory” screen means that your Mac can’t find a System Folder to start up from — perhaps due to a hard drive problem.
Coming soon to Win 10: This error
Why look! It’s a bold new error screen from Microsoft!
The added QR code, coming to Windows 10 this summer, represents an exciting new frontier in malfunctioning computer technology. Huzzah for progress!