Microsoft premiers the "Blue Screen of Death" to an audience

As part of the development and marketing process for the Windows 98 OS, Microsoft decided to do a public demonstration.

Rare picture of the Blue Screen of Death premiere with Bill Gates and his assistant in the cut.

There are few things worse than public embarrassment. Have you ever spilled a drink on yourself and then have to go about with a stain (wey resemble piss)? A publicly embarrassing situation is something any and every one of us wants to avoid. It is also the subject of today’s history lesson.

Microsoft is one of the biggest tech companies in the world. There are 1.25 billion PCs from several manufacturers running it’s [Microsoft’s] Windows OS. Bill Gates, the company’s founder, is the richest man on the planet and one of the great minds of the last century. However, Microsoft’s story is not all rosy.

Back in 1998, the company was working on the popular Windows 98 operating system. It was supposed to be a replacement for the Windows 95 program — which was a hit. As part of the development and marketing process for Windows 98 OS, Microsoft decided to do a public demonstration of a plug-and-play feature for the operating system at the COMDEX Spring ’98 shows in Chicago on April 20, 1998.

During the demonstration, an assistant caused the OS to crash by plugging in a scanner resulting in what is now called the “Blue screen of death” beaming to the entire audience. They all burst out laughing.

After several seconds trying to fix it, Bill Gates famously say, “That must be why we’re not shipping Windows 98 yet.” It later launched officially on June 25, 1998, having learned from the April 20 incident which was one of the most public embarrasment it has ever encounter.

If that had happened in Nigeria (private sector o, not civil savant people), saying that assistant would most likely lose his job is not too far-fetched. But for this assistant, Chris Capossella, its the opposite — he has actually climbed through the ranks at Microsoft and is now the Senior Vice President, Consumer Channels and Central Marketing Group at Microsoft. Talk about a good ending.

That concludes today’s technology history lesson. Don’t forget to share with everyone you know, every way you can. Peez out!

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