The Boy Who Cried “Nuke!” Computer Error Nearly Ends Civilization!

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From the Series Lil’ History Chips

On November 9, 1979, the computers that served the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the American and Canadian anti-nuclear defense agency, wrongly reported that a massive Soviet nuclear strike was on the way, triggering an alert that nearly caused the U.S. to launch its own massive retaliatory nuclear strike.

Luckily for the citizens of the Northern Hemisphere, and perhaps the entire earth, a frantic manual check of satellite data and early warning radars showed the alarm to be false, and NORAD cancelled the alert, narrowly averting the accidental start of a massive nuclear war.

At that point in time, such a war might have entailed the U.S. and the USSR exchanging a few thousand nukes apiece, with other strategic targets hit worldwide.  Other nuclear-armed countries may well have joined in, such as China, the UK and France.  The resulting devastation might have killed hundreds of millions of people outright and perhaps have ended life as we know it with the introduction of a “nuclear winter,” massive radiation and crop damage, etc.  All because of a computer error.  Hmm…

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.