6 Most Dramatic Spelling Mistakes In History

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Spelling mistakes, we all make them. Some more often than others. But did you know that a simple spelling mistake or grammatical error can have the most detrimental of outcomes? Throughout time there have been numerous occasions where a small error has resulted in a huge financial loss, a technology-altering change and even a problem in space. 

In this article, we will be discussing some of the most dramatic spelling mistakes the world has ever seen.

Why Google Was Almost Not Google

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This is an extremely light one to start off with but still incredibly interesting. I bet you didn’t know that Google only became Google as a result of a spelling error. 

In 1997 at Stanford University both Larry Page and Sean Anderson were brainstorming names to call their data index website. They came up with the name ‘googolplex’ but then shortened it to ‘googol’. This was the minted name, however, after going to check the availability of the domain they made a few typing errors and ended up typing ‘google’.

Lo and behold the domain for this was available and the duo became very fond of the name and therefore decided to keep it. After this, the rest is all history. 

It is incredibly interesting that something as gargantuan as Google could be completely different if it was not for a typo. Billions of people both type ‘Google’ and use their search engine on a daily basis which could all have been different but for a small spelling error.

NASA Missed Hyphen Leads To Huge Failure

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This is one of the most dramatic events in history to be caused by a grammatical error. While hyphens are not typically at the top of the most important pieces of punctuation, their misuse caused huge problems for the world-renowned space administration.  

In 1962 NASA’s first interplanetary probe mission ‘Manner 1’ was scheduled to take place. The objective was to get up close with our neighbouring planet Venus, however, it did not quite go according to plan. 

One missing hyphen in the coding that helps to set both the speed and the trajectory of the craft ended up being the reason for a tragic failure. The craft exploded just moments after it took off due to the incorrect coding that missed a single hyphen. Not only was this a tragic outcome but it is also estimated to have cost NASA around $80 million.

The Bible Promotes Promiscuity

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Even the most famous books in history have been through their fair share of spelling mistakes. The bible is one of the most sacred books to ever be written and a grammatical or spelling mistake can not only be an inconvenience but can also, in some cases, disrespect or cause offence to the religion. 

In 1631 a huge mistake was made by London’s Baker Books House when rewriting the ten commandments. An important word was regretfully missed out on a commandment leaving it to read ‘Thou shalt commit adultery. The word ‘not’ was missed out meaning the commandment was promoting the very action that it was put in place to condemn. 

The then King Charles I labelled this version of the holy book as the ‘Wicked Bible’ and then declared that the 1,000 copies that he had ordered from the bookmaker should be immediately destroyed.

Japanese Securities Sold For Pennies

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In 2005 Japanese security firm Mizuho Securities Co. fell victim to an extremely minor error that ended up causing extortionate damage.  

The typo that was meant to read 610,000 yen for 1 share was actually listed 610,000 shares of the company for an astonishingly low 1 yen per share. 

This gargantuan mistake resulted in a loss of around $225 million. The firm tried tirelessly to cancel their mistake but unfortunately for Mizuho, the Tokyo Stock Exchange cannot and will not cancel any orders. 

Instances like this can show just how detrimental one small mistake can be. A small lapse in judgement can almost take out a large security firm. The error not only affected Mizuho but also the whole Japanese market with the error being a huge contributor to a 1.95 percent drop in the benchmark Nikkei 225 index.

The Not So Exotic Holiday

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Most of us remember the Yellow Pages. The mammoth book has every possible contact number you could possibly need. Well, California-based Banner Travel Services would most certainly like to forget them. 

In 1998 the Yellow Pages described the travel agency as offering ‘International and erotic travel’. This mortified agency owner Gloria Quinn who had wanted the advertisement listing to say that they offer ‘exotic travel. She said ‘We offer exotic travel, like tours up the Amazon, but nothing erotic’. In addition to the appalling spelling mistake, the wrongly used word was plastered across their prominent advertisement in bold red writing. 

Not only did this have a hugely negative effect on the brand image of the travel agency but also had an impact on the Yellow Pages as Gloria decided that she would take action. She filed a lawsuit against the widely popular phonebook seeking an extortionate $10 million in damages and won.

The Local car Dealership’s Big Mistake

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In 2007 a local car dealership in Roswell, New Mexico devised a seemingly brilliant plan to drive new business. The plan was to mail out 50,000 scratch tickets, with one of them having a $1000 grand prize.  

The dealership would use Atlanta-based Forced Events Direct Marketing which would accidentally turn up the stakes a whole lot more. They printed out 50,000 scratch tickets, all with tickets that have the $1000 grand prize. This then meant that there was $50 million worth of winnings, a sum that the local dealership would never be able to pay. 

With the company unable to fulfil the $50 million winnings they instead offered every winning ticket a $5 Walmart gift voucher. While the company got away with the huge $50 million debt, the $250,000 worth of Walmart vouchers was a huge loss for such an idiotic mistake.

To conclude, While in most cases spelling mistakes are very minor, in other cases they can have detrimental repercussions. The importance of correct punctuation and spelling is normally dependent on the industry. Some industries need far more accuracy and spelling and grammar as the consequences for errors are far greater. 

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