We hear about oil spills and other disasters, followed by massive cleaning up operations and other expensive mistakes. However, do we really understand the magnitude of such errors? Let’s look at a few of the most costly mistakes, from clerks’ typos to catastrophic errors that caused nuclear meltdowns.
Typographical errors that cost $236 million
In December 2005, a clerk employed by Mizuho Securities Co. in Japan typed an offer to sell employment agency J-Com Co. shares. Unfortunately, the clerk’s mind might have been elsewhere because instead of typing an offer to sell one share for 610,000 yen, the clerk typed an offer to sell 610,000 shares for one yen. I can’t even imagine what the worker who made the typo must have gone through in the aftermath of that mistake.
Errors rob NASA engineers of celebration
As NASA engineers prepared to celebrate the Mars Climate Orbiter’s success in Sept. 1999, their bubble burst. Actually, that’s not entirely true, there was no bubble to burst, but the orbiter burned and burst into pieces. Alarmingly, this happened after the Mars Climate Orbiter has spent about 10 months traveling to its destination. This was a doomed project from the onset because some of the math people seemed to have missed a crucial memo. Although NASA, like the rest of the world, use metric units, the U.S. still uses imperial units. NASA engineers were unaware that some math calculations used imperial units. The cost of the Mars Climate Orbiter’s ultimate crash was $328 million, not to mention the lives lost.
Errors caused Challenger’s fail within only 73 seconds
In 1986 the whole world gathered, excited to see the launch of the Challenger Space Shuttle. This was the first time for civilians to join the astronauts on a trip into space. Sadly, what promised to be an indescribable experience for them ended after only 73 seconds. The U.S.’s financial consequences totaled $1.7 billion, not nearly enough to ease the trauma of the families who lost loved ones in the tragic events.
Someone thought space stuff and Jedi would be a loser
Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm, Star Wars brand’s home, from George Lucas in 2012. The sale included all future rights and sequels. Rumor has it that someone at Lucasfilm saw no future for space stuff and Jedi. Lucas sold the company for $4.05 billion, still experiencing pain about the error that ultimately cost him $27 billion.
Was Ronald Wayne an April Fools day victim
On April 1, 1976, Ronald Wayne co-founded Apple Computers along with Jobs and Wozniak. However, after only 12 days, Wayne went back to the registrar’s office. He renounced his role in Apple and relinquished his part of the equity for only $800. Can you imagine how he regretted that massive error? At 86 years old, Wayne’s net worth in August 2020 was $400,000. And Apple Computers’ worth in August last year was $2 trillion!!!
Was selling Alaska to the U.S. an error?
When Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867, it was for as little as $7.2 million. Rumor has it that Russia was unaware of the oil riches below the ice. When they ultimately figured it out, they had lost $50.7 billion.
Bad management blamed for BP Oil Spill
Quantifying the losses caused by the Deepwater Horizon 2010 BP oil spill is impossible. When the rig blew, it collapsed and sent nearly 134 million gallons of oil into the surrounding ocean. Along with the 11 people who lost their lives, billions of animals died. The $60.9 billion estimated losses seem far less than what such a tragedy should be, especially if you consider that bad management caused it.
Biggest man-made disaster design error?
In April 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine exploded, also called Chornobyl. You have all likely seen the TV shows about it. The cleaning up afterward, and the loss in human lives were catastrophic. Reportedly, the explosion resulted from design errors and personnel with inadequate training. The initial $235 billion in the cleaning up proceedings was just a start.