THROWBACK THURSDAY: Blue Screen of Death

If you remember computing in the 1990s, you remember the “Blue Screen of Death.” It was a notice that something in your computer had failed — either hardware or software — in a way that was so unrecoverable that the computer had no choice but to stop immediately. The “Blue Screen of Death” was its last message before freezing up hard and requiring you to reboot with all your work totally lost.

For those who don’t remember, here’s a typical one:

Usually you got an arcane explanation that didn’t help you get your documents back at all, and you were down for anywhere from 10 minutes to 10 months while you were waiting to get back to work.

Today’s computers have become so much more reliable and so much better at isolating programs that misbehave that you hardly ever see the old “BSOD” anymore, and it’s also gotten a tad more attractive:

…as if that’s going to make you feel better. Mac computers have always had something like this:

but it’s been rare in the last 15 years since Apple introduced OS X.

At this point, the BSOD is almost totally gone, which means of course it’s time for a nostalgic gallery that brings back all the pain of past computing while keeping you savely ensconced in a modern operating system. Our friends at Techcrunch were proud to oblige, with a gallery they call “27 old-school computer error screens that will fill you with anxiety.” It’s a nice gentle walk back to the days when computers were a little less of a sure thing. Enjoy!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.