10 Of The Biggest Mistakes Ever Made In History
One look at the past and we will find that history is filled with many stumbling blocks. The path walked by our forefathers was not always smooth. They had their fair share of mistakes and blunders. Some of these blunders started as tiny mistakes, but with time they grew to be big enough to change the course of history. Let’s take a look at the biggest mistakes ever made in history.
1 A faulty repair of a Japanese Boeing 747 resulted in 520 deaths, resignation of Japan Airlines then President, the suicide of an inspection engineer, a guilt-stricken maintenance manager, and a one-third drop in air travel in Japan.
On August 12, 1985, Japanese Airlines Flight 123 was scheduled to travel from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Osaka International Airport, Japan. Twelve minutes after the takeoff, the Boeing’s aft pressure bulkhead burst open. As a result, the aircraft suffered an explosive decompression which allowed unpressurized air to rush into the cabin.
The ceiling around the rear laboratory started collapsing. The pilots somehow managed to keep the plane in the air for next 32 minutes after which it crashed in between the ridges of Mount Takamagahara.
Out of the 509 passengers, only four survived the crash. The 15 crew members too lost their lives in this incident. The cause of the aircraft crash was later revealed to the public following an official inspection. Seven years ago in 1978, the aircraft was involved in a tailstrike incident which damaged the rear pressure bulkhead.
When the bulkhead was repaired, the technicians did not use the approved repair method. The faulty repair reduced the metal fatigue resistance of the bulkhead which led to the Boeing’s crash seven years later. (1, 2)
2 Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin approached Excite CEO George Bell in 1999, to sell their search engine at $1 million. After rejecting the initial offering, the pair went down to $750,000, but Bell still rejected it. Today, Google is valued at around $498 billion.
Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in January 1996 when they were both Ph.D. students at Stanford University. In the beginning, they called it “BackRub.” Later it was changed to Google.
In 1999, Page and Larry went to Excite CEO George Bell to sell Google. They offered to sell it for $1 million, but Bell rejected the offer. Vinod Khosla, the founder of Khosla Ventures who was also one of Excite’s venture capitalists, talked to both Page and Larry.
3 During Mao’s China in 1958, thousands of sparrows were killed because they were believed to be pests. As the sparrows decreased, locusts and other insects increased and ravaged crops in China. This led to the Great Chinese Famine which killed 20-45 million people.
In 1958, Chinese ruler Mao Zedong introduced a campaign called the “Four Pests.” in to eradicate four pests: mosquitoes, rodents, airborne flies, and sparrows. Among the sparrows, the Eurasian tree sparrow was specifically targeted as it ate grain, seed, and fruits.
People started shooting sparrows, breaking their eggs, destroying their nests, and killing the young chicks. Also, the citizens started banging pots and pans which would create noise and wouldn’t let the sensitive birds rest. As a result, hundreds of sparrows died from exhaustion. Within a year, about 220,000,000 sparrows were killed.
But what the Chinese leader didn’t realize was that along with eating seeds and grains, the sparrows also ate insects which were otherwise harmful to the crops. Without the sparrows, the population of insects started increasing.
They harmed the crops, and as a result, the rice yields began to decrease. The locust population too boomed and soon they were swarmed in the fields. China began suffering from famine, and the result was the Great Chinese Famine which went on from 1959 to 1961. (source)
4 Before they went on to become an international star, the Beatles auditioned for Decca Records on 1 January 1962. Committing one of the biggest mistakes in musical history, Decca rejected the band stating that: “The Beatles have no future in show business.”
Just like other bands, Beatles too struggled a lot before their success. They faced many rejections including one from the Decca Records. On the New Year’s Eve in 1961, the Beatles drove for ten hours to reach the Decca Studios located in north London. On 1 January 1962, the band auditioned for the Decca staff. They performed on fifteen different songs in just an hour.
The songs were recorded, but eventually, Decca Records rejected them, saying: “The Beatles have no future in show business” and “Guitar groups are on the way out.” Instead, they chose Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, who were a local band and would require less travel expense.
But rejecting the Beatles turned out to be a big mistake. That’s because just after their rejection from Decca Records, the popularity of the Beatles began to rise in London, and after that, they became an international sensation. (source)
5 Gavrilo Princip, who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand, got the chance to assassinate him because the archduke’s driver made a wrong turn. Had the driver gone the right way, World War I might not have happened, and the history of the 20th century could have been completely different.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife, Sophie, were visiting the capital of Bosnia on June 28, 1914. At the same time, six Bosnian-born Serb terrorists were waiting along the route of archduke’s entourage.
They wanted to avenge the 1908 annexation of Bosnia by the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. When one of the terrorists got the opportunity, he threw a hand grenade at the archduke’s car. But the archduke and his wife escaped the attack, and the grenade only wounded other members of the entourage.
The angry archduke arrived at the town hall reception, but instead of going to the museum, the royal party decided to visit the wounded in hospital. But while driving towards the hospital, the driver took a wrong turn. The driver put the car into reverse and coincidentally stopped just five feet away from 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip. Astonished at the opportunity, Princip fired twice and killed both the archduke and his wife.
Their death led to a series of events. The Astro-Hungarian empire declared war on Serbia. Russia joined Serbia to defend it. France and Germany too declared war in support of their ally Austro-Hungary. At first, Britain was not interested in the war, but when Germany’s war plan involved an attack on Belgium and France, Britain was obliged to honor its treaties to defend both these countries. Hence, World War I began, and the world’s history changed forever. (1,2)
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