“Some of the best lessons we ever learn are learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future” — Dale Turner
History is shaped by mistakes, some of which are simply embarrassing, others of which have disastrous consequences. Below are 48 actual mistakes that have been committed in history.
Take a look:
#1. A Costly Spelling Mistake
The British government was sued for £9 million after a clerical error resulted in the wrong company being recorded as in liquidation. Companies House mistakenly mistook a 124-year-old Welsh company called “Taylor and Sons” for a bankrupt company “Taylor and Son” due to a clerical error that inserted an extra ‘s’ onto a liquidation notice. The mistake cost 250 people their jobs.
#2. We’ll Pass
In 2009, Facebook turned down a pair of programmers for jobs. A few years later, the pair developed WhatsApp, which Facebook subsequently purchased for $19 billion dollars.
#3. Trains Were Too Wide
The French state railway SNCF spent $15 billion on a new fleet of trains, but unfortunately, they were the wrong size, and were too wide for their 1300 platforms. The mistake cost them an estimated $50 million to correct.
#4. They Should Have Listened
In 1912, on its maiden voyage from England, the “unsinkable” ship The Titanic crashed into an iceberg and sunk. The crew had received warnings about icebergs in the area, but disregarded them and pressed on anyway. The disaster claimed the lives of 1,517 people.
#5. Infidelity is Expensive
Tiger Woods’s admission of multiple illicit affairs with women cost him his wife, and 750 million dollars. He also lost his sponsorships with Gatorade and others, but even worse, the shareholders of the companies with Tiger Woods endorsements lost an estimate $5 to $12 billion dollars in the wake of the scandal.
#6. Gambled and Lost
The Spanish telecom company Terra took a gamble when they purchased the search engine Lycos in 2000 for almost $12 billion. At the time, Lycos was the third most visited site in America, but faded after the dot.com bubble burst. The search engine was sold in 2004 for $95.4 million, resulting in a loss of $11.6 billion dollars on their investment.
#7. I Accidentally Taped Over It!
Back in the days of data tapes, it was easy to accidentally tape over earlier recordings. Unfortunately for NASA, that’s exactly what they did, and the original tapes of the moon landing were erased and re-used. Luckily, they were able to restore the original broadcast, and offer the world a glimpse of the historic event.
The admission that NASA accidentally erased the original footage had fed rocket fuel to conspiracy theorists, who already believed the entire lunar program that landed people on the moon six times between 1969 and 1972 was staged on a Hollywood set.
#8. The Worst Nuclear Accident in U.S. History
The nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island in March of 1979 was the result of mechanical failures that were made worse by poor training and oversights in the human-computer interaction design. It was the most significant nuclear disaster in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history.
There are conflicting reports on the cost of the disaster, with some sources stating that the radiation exposure wasn’t significant enough to result in additional cancer deaths, while others insist that thousands of additional deaths have been observed.
#9. Loss of Cultural Knowledge
The Alexandria library was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world, and was dedicated to the Muses–the 9 goddesses of the Arts. The burning of the library resulted in an irreplaceable loss of knowledge and literature.
#10. Don’t Drink and Steer
In 1989, an Exxon oil tanker was headed to California when it ran aground on the Bligh Reef off the Alaskan coast. The tanker spilled around 760,000 barrels of oil into the water, and the captain was later accused of being drunk at the time of the accident. He was convicted of negligent discharge of oil.