One of the deadliest attacks on American soldiers during the 1991 Gulf War came when an Iraqi Scud missile hit the U.S. Army barracks near Dharan, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 people. The nearby Patriot missile battery failed to intercept the Scud, and it turns out that the Patriot had a software bug: one part of its internal calculations used a decimal representation of time, and one part used a binary representation. Since the error derived in part from the Patriot’s internal clock, it got worse the longer the system went without a reboot — and during the war, the Patriots were always on alert and never rebooted. The missile that hit Dharan, it turns out, was the last one Iraq fired.
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