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15 Most Expensive Mistakes Of All Time That Changed The Fate Of History

Updated on 17 July, 2018 at 3:24 pm By

It is only human to err, but sometimes these mistakes turn out to be expensive. By expensive mistakes we mean they lead to immense loss of finances besides changing the course of history. Perfection is difficult to attain and these expensive mistakes will make you want to get that perfect detailing and vigilance in any task at hand from now on. Because who wants to lose out on so much money just because a simple task was not given detailing, right?


Here is a look at the 15 most expensive mistakes that will teach you to tread with care when undertaking any task, whether big or small:


1. The sale of Alaska

Considering it to be a mere marshland, Russia sold off Alaska to the USA for 7.2 million dollars in 1867. Today, Alaska stands as a treasure trove of natural resources worth billions of dollars.



2. The partition of India and Pakistan

This is one mistake for which India and Pakistan both are still paying for. Including the fight over Kashmir, two bloody wars and loss of peace, soldiers as well as insurmountable amounts of money, the loss on both sides has been tremendous.



3. NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter

The Mars Climate Orbiter was designed to study the climate on Mars. The Orbiter ended up being burnt in the Martian atmosphere because of a conversion error. The engineers at NASA forgot to convert the measurement units from pounds to newtons resulting in the $125 million satellite getting destroyed without providing any valuable results.


4. Heathrow Terminal 5 opening

In 2008, the international terminal of the World’s busiest airport turned into a chaos. Despite 20 years of meticulous planning, involving £4.3bn of funds and a six month training period for the staff, the grand opening day was a disastrous failure because the baggage system collapsed. The new automated systems failed to take into account manual disruptions like passengers picking up their bag for taking out something they had forgotten, the system not being able to read certain details, etc. And hence, the delay kept on piling up leading to thousands of passengers either being stranded on the airport for hours or having to travel without their luggage.


5. The Morris Worm

An internet worm created by the mistake of then student Robert Morris led to panic about data and information breach and cost millions of dollars in order to ultimately stop the worm from replicating itself and spreading around to lead system failures across multiple sections including labs, schools and government agencies across the nation.


6. Muhammad Ghori vs Prithviraj Chauhan

Indians are known for their kindness and soft-hearted nature. This was proved by one of the bravest men in Indian history Prithviraj Chauhan too. Having defeated and captured Muhammad Ghori after the First Battle of Tarain in 1191 AD, Prithviraj could have easily gotten rid of Ghori and beheaded him as suggested by his advisors. But unwilling to compromise on his magnanimous Rajput tradition, Prithviraj allowed him to go scot-free. The very next year Ghori waged a war again and the result was that India had to be under the Islamic rule for almost 800 years, following the defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan in the 2nd Battle of Tarain.



7. 61,000 shares for 1 Yen

Mizuho Securities, a Japanese trading company wanted to sell one share at  ¥610,000 (about $5,000) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The actual sale value put up by a stockbroker (who probably didn’t get enough sleep the previous night) was 610,000 shares for only ¥1 each. By the time the mistake was realized, it was too late and the Stock Exchange had already processed the order. The resultant loss was  $225M.



8. ET and Reese’s

In one of the biggest blockbuster movies of all time ET, the alien is lured by Reese’s (a candy brand in the US). Steven Spielberg had initially approached M&M for the product placement and branding, but they turned down the offer. The result? Reese’s sales shot up by 65% after the movie!



9. Elon Musk vs Netscape Navigator

Who doesn’t know Elon Musk today? But at the beginning of his career, when he was a nobody, Elon had approached the then market leader of internet age Netscape Navigator with his ideas and wanted to work for them. But his application was rejected and he failed the job interview. Today, Netscape Navigator is history and Elon Musk is one of the wealthiest and most influential entrepreneurs of the world.


10. When Janjira became no man’s land

The Murud-Janjira fort is one of the most beautiful forts in Maharashtra (and India) but its history is filled with treachery. And for a long time, the thriving, beautiful and rich in resources fort was without any rulers or humanity residing over its premises.


11. The Sinking of the Titanic

Over the years, many reasons have been attributed to the sinking of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic, but recently it came to light that the whole mishap could have been avoided if a warning sent was marked as ‘urgent’. It is said that senior radio operator Jack Philips did not pass a clear warning to the ship’s captain, Edward Smith. The prefix “MSG” meaning Masters’ Service Gram was not provided with the message which would have indicated and required a captain to personally acknowledge the receipt of the message. Because it hadn’t been prefixed so, it is believed to be the reason for the oversight by the captain hence leading to the ultimate sinking of the ship.


12. Purulia arms drop case

A case that has prolonged for too long in Indian history still remains a mystery because the arms were apparently dropped at the wrong place.



13. Bitcoins worth millions trashed

Back in 2009, bitcoins had just appeared and nobody knew that in a decade they will be so in demand. At that time, an Englishman named James Howell collected 7500 of this digital currency. By the time bitcoin value reached its peak (in 2013), it turned out that James had dumped the hard drive in which he had stored bitcoins worth millions.


14. Unclaimed jackpot of  £116 million

This husband probably took his wife’s words “clean up the mess regularly”, seriously which is why he even threw away a lottery ticket which later turned to be the jackpot winner.


15. Ronald Wayne’s Apple share sellout

Ronald Wayne, one of the founder’s of Apple and the one who designed their first logo and even wrote its first manual, sold off his share in 1976. He did so because he feared the company is heading towards bankruptcy. His 10% shareholding was sold at $800. If he had held onto it, he would have been a billionaire today.




When so much time, money, people and all other varied resources are involved in one task, such expensive mistakes ought not to happen, and rather than expecting others to take care of the minute details, it is better that each person involved takes up the responsibility.


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