Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

When tech goes wrong: 10 of the biggest fails in tech history

99.9% of the time we love our tech. But every now and then it can play up in the most spectacular ways. Enjoy…

Sometimes technology turns and bites us on the input socket. After all, we boss it around all day, get mad when it takes more than a second to please us with our endless requests and bin it whenever it gets more than a year old. No wonder it occasionally gets a bit tetchy.

For all our moaning and tutting in their direction, though, gadgets know we need them, that we can’t live without them – so every now and then they decide to have a little fun, whether that means making us a bit miffed, or dropping from the sky and smashing right into our stupid faces.

Cheaters Compromised
The hack that made 37 million adulterers
instantly feel the blood drain from their faces (and everywhere else, no
doubt) took place on July 20th of this year, when a gang of interweb troublemakers
claimed to have stolen details of those signed up to online
affair-providers, Ashley Madison. This week things got a lot worse leaving a fair few people having to do some serious explaning to their partners. No doubt there was an awful lot of people who’ve had this
“:-s” as their facial expression for the past week.

iPod Lightening Strikes
Following the case of a man being struck by lightening while wearing an iPod in 2007, doctors from Vancouver General Hospital wrote a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, stating, “Although the use of a device such as an iPod may not increase the chances of being struck by lightening, in this case the combination of sweat and metal earphones directed the current to, and through, the patient’s head”. However, on the flip side, when in 2009 a teenage girl was struck by lightening in the UK, doctors believed that she only survived the 300,000-volt surge because her iPod diverted the current away from her vital organs. Our advice: Do or don’t wear iPods in a storm.

Drone Attack
There’s a YouTube video called “Drone suddenly
drops out of sky, hits man in face”. It looks very painful. In fact, if
you type in “drone hits person”, you’ll find reams of news stories
linked to folks getting floored by these mini choppers. Our favourite
ones, however, involve restaurants. The headline “Drone delivering
asparagus to Dutch restaurant crashes and bursts into flames” doesn’t
need expanding on to make it any funnier, but at number one in the drone
attack chart we have the mistletoe-carrying drones being flown around
TGI Fridays in New York last Christmas, one of which crashed into
photographer Georgine Benventuto’s face, cutting her nose. Happy
Christmas to you too, drone, ya filthy animal.

Related: Drones in the UK: Where willl they fly to next?

tech goes wrong 11

Man Shoots Laptop
In April this year, Lucas Hinch of Colorado Springs became so frustrated with his computer that he shot it eight times. Hinch told the Colorado Springs Gazette that he “shot the darn thing” when ctrl+alt+delete wouldn’t work. In 2003, George Doughty, a 48-year-old from Lafayette, Colorado, also went Wild West on his slow-running laptop that he walked out of his office into a next-door bar, warned patrons to cover their ears and shot it four times, for which he was arrested. He later acknowledged that he perhaps shouldn’t have shot the computer, but that it, “seemed appropriate” at the time. We’ve all been there. Sort of.

Driverless Cars Collide
Well, that’s the headline most of the press went with. What actually happened when two driverless cars from competing companies – Google and Delphi Automotive – ended up on the same stretch of  highway, was that both cars were looking to change lane at the same time, so one abandoned the manoeuvre, thereby acting appropriately. The only actual collisions involving automated cars have been due to human error. Still, don’t let the machines know that, they’re smug enough as it is, the headline stays.

tech goes wrong 19

Segway Sorrows
After George W Bush fell from his Segway in 2003, former Mirror editor Piers Morgan ran the headline: “You’d have to be an idiot to fall off, wouldn’t you Mr President?” Three years later, Morgan fell from a Segway breaking three ribs. There’s nothing more you can really say about this, it’s just… perfect.

Mars Attacks
In 2003, thousands of unhinged abductees waited with baited breath for definitive proof that Martians existed, but it wasn’t be. British spacecraft Beagle 2 – a bargain at £22m – launched from the Mars Express mothership and made its descent towards the Red Planet, then lost signal before landing. The official statement, two months of searching later: “We lost it”. Shoot forward to 2015  – 11 years later, a short time in space exploration – and they only bloody found it again, yay! It was broken though, boo…

Freeze, Fridge!
The refrigerator is our friend. He keeps our Munch Bunch cold and doesn’t even complain when we deposit bits of kebab in him, even though we haven’t given him a defrosting for months. But hang on… what’s this headline on the BBC News website from last year? “Fridge sends spam emails”? Fridge? Is this true? Yep, it’s not just phones and laptops that are compromised these days, it’s smart appliances. Practically every machine in your kitchen could right now be being used to scam people. Your toaster asking innocent old ladies for $20,000, your kettle looking at weird porn, your smart toastie maker trying to hack the Pentagon. Be afraid.

Related: 10 Tech holiday faux pas we’e all made
tech goes wrong 13

Exploding E-Cigs
You’ve switched to leccy tabs because you’re concerned about your health, because you hope you’ll be old before you die, but you still want the stress-relief of that Nicotine hit. The last thing you want is your new vape stick exploding into your face. That’s not part of the live-longer plan; that’s not very relaxing. But in July this year, the UK Local Government Association reported that over 100 fires had been caused by this very thing happening, with fire authorities stating that many of the fires occur due to people using chargers not supplied or intended for use with the devices. So the simple solution is use the right plug if you don’t want to look silly. Well, you already look silly, but if you don’t want to look burnt and silly…

Sat Nav Stupidity
We couldn’t do a list like this and not include a few classic Sat Nav blunders. Gather round, one and all. In 2009, Robert Jones followed his trusty nav along a narrow, steep road in Yorkshire. He was actually going down a Pennine path, and ended up teetering over the edge of a cliff. He described the incident as “a nightmare”. And then there’s the case of student Paula Ceely, who in 2007 followed her device onto a railway track in Redditch. A train struck her car and carried it 800m down the track. Somehow, she escaped injury, and also the horror of being pushed all the way to somewhere like Croydon.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

Trusted Reviews Logo

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best of Trusted Reviews delivered right to your inbox.

This is a test error message with some extra words