Computer Blue Screen

Computers are complex machines, able to aggregate vast amounts of pornography and list-format dick-humour with a single mouse click. All of this complexity comes with a price, though, and occasionally the digital shit hits the fan.

Just The Facts

  1. "Blue Screen" is a colloquial term for an error message produced by your computer's operating system when a serious problem has occurred and the system is unable to continue.
  2. That last sentence is pretty much all the information that fucker is going to give you (if you're lucky). Unless you can read hex-codes, you're pretty much fucked.

The Olden Days

Programmers have a long, storied history of crafting ridiculously cryptic error messages that pop up when their shit fails to work properly. This could be due to time constraints, as getting shit to work correctly takes precedence over producing easy-to-understand error messages for the .01% of cases where a severe problem occurs. That, or they just think it's fucking hilarious.

Bill Gates laughs at you

0xFD3094c2, you dumb son of a bitch!

Back in the day, when everything was sepia toned and entertainment consisted of overweight bus-drivers threatening to beat their wives on a weekly basis, computing consisted of gargantuan machines that ran code off of punch cards. If something was fucked up, the only person who needed to see the error message was the programmer that left a hanging chad on his punch card. Due to the fact that all of this was written with a complex series of fucking holes in a piece of paper, "cryptic" would be an understatement.

Fast-forward a couple decades, and things haven't gotten much better. Computers are getting smaller and cheaper, but still haven't really broken into the mainstream market. More people are in possession of the machines, but that doesn't necessarily make them any less nerdy than their predecessors.

Sweet jesus

Who says smoking doesn't make you look cool?

At this point, using a computer was still pretty complicated. Replace the punch cards with floppy disks and tiny screens, and you'll get my point. The operating systems in use at this time didn't have any fancy-pants gimmicks like mouse input, color graphics, or windows. You used the command line and you liked it.

In these simple times, the machines only really needed to worry about whether the disk could be read, or if there was an issue with the printer. The former resulted in the familiar, and ultimately useless "Abort, Retry, Fail?" error screen. The latter encompassed all of the common printer issues - whether it was disconnected, out of paper, or on fucking fire.

The Motherfucking 80s!

Somewhere between the coke-binges, Journey concerts, and shitty E.T-themed videogames, a war was brewing. Apple, Microsoft, and Commodore were fighting for marketshare, all with exciting new products, and exciting new ways to give their users the finger.

Apple were the bad boys on the block, having come to market with the first personal computer to both use a graphical interface and not be a dismal failure. While they were expensive (around 2 grand in 1984 dollars), the new-fangled "not having to type everything the fuck in" interface made it popular with the graphic-design kids. Even at this early time, however, Apple was already treating their users like complete fucking retards.

Sad Mac

Translated: Your computer is sad. Please turn it the fuck off, you fucking twat.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft started working on the very first version of Windows in the early 80s. Less a standalone operating system than it was a pretty shell for running MS-DOS applications, Windows 1.0 finally saw the light of day in 1985. Like Apple, Microsoft's future tendencies began to come to light through their very first Blue Screen of Death. Unlike Apple, this tendency was geared less toward dumbing things down and more toward treating their customers like complete pieces of shit.

BSOD 1.0

If you look closely, you'll see happy little smiley faces mocking your failure.

Perhaps the most tragic failure from the decade of DeLoreans and epic mounds of Bolivian Marching Powder was the Amiga. It offerred more than its competitors for less money, even allowing users to do 3D rendering and video editing on a fucking desktop computer. In 1987. That capability alone wouldn't be seen from other machines for years, so what the fuck happened?

Guru Fucking Meditation

Guru Meditation, that's what happened.

In all honesty, the Amiga's downfall can be blamed on mismanagement at the hands of their corporate overlords at Commodore, but that doesn't excuse the ridiculousness of this error message. Seriously, meditating isn't going to bring my fucking porn back any time soon, no matter how free your spirit is. Now hose off that pitchouli and fix it, hippie.

The 90s, and Beyond

With Amiga being raped into the ground by Commodore, and her lifeless corpse tossed around from company to swarthy company, Microsoft and Apple were pretty much it for the home PC market of the 90s, and unless you really feel like counting Linux' 1%-ish share of the market, that's pretty much how things are going today.

The past twenty years haven't seen a huge advance in the helpfulness or readability of error screens, but thanks to the magic of the Internet, they've become a cultural phenomenon. Always the innovator, Bill Gates himself can be credited with starting this trend when, at the COMDEX computer expo in 1998, the demonstration machine crashed upon its introduction to that most foreign and exotic of peripherals - the fucking scanner. Since then, the message has appeared everywhere: billboards, ATMs, concerts, even some sad fuck's arm.

Of course, Apple fans will undoubtedly use this as a cornerstone of any "Windoze Sux" arguments, launching into a totally uninvited tirade extolling the vast superiority of Mac OS before grabbing their venti-half-caff-fair-trade soy latte and sauntering off in their unisex skinny-jeans.

But, hey, at least Microsoft are nice enough to include the name of the offending file, thereby giving users some clue as to what the fuck just happened so they can try to fix it themselves.

osx crash

Just bring it in to the Genius Bar, you stupid fuck.