7 Tiniest Mistakes that Changed the Course of History


We all make mistakes. Not necessarily some global decision that can lead to unwanted consequences, or some sort of funny typo in the word “duck”, but it probably won’t cause a World War III. Well, actually it might.

There have been cases in history when seemingly the tiniest, and most unimportant errors cause a whole avalanche of unfortunate events that in turn changed the world as we know it. Okay, maybe I’m overreacting, but it’s better if you’d see for yourself.

Here’s the list of 10 tiniest mistakes that changed the course of history.



A decimal comma that made spinach the super-food
Back in 1870, a German chemist decided to calculate which veggies have the most iron in them. When he was summing up the results, he accidentally put the comma in the wrong place, which lead to spinach having 35 mg of iron, instead of 3,5, making it a “super food”.

Lost key caused the Titanic disaster
Right before its first (and last) cruise, the captain’s second officer David Blair was replaced by a more senior officer Lightroller who himself was bumped by a very senior crew member from the White Star Line’s sister ship, Olympic. In his rush to depart the ship on 9 April, Blair forgot to leave the key to the crow’s nest telephone and took it with him off the ship. He also seems to have stowed the lookout’s binoculars in his cabin! Lightoller was unaware of this when he took over. This was mentioned to the American Inquiry into the Titanic disaster that they had been unable to find the keys or binoculars.

Mars climate research were ruined because the calculations were in inches
The team that built jet engines for Mars climate research didn’t even think to use the metric system in their calculations and didn’t inform NASA everything was in inches. You can imagine how wrong everything went when they started to build it.

Two planes were destroyed in mid air because their windows were square
The De Havilland Comet was a real masterpiece of a plane. In 1954 2 Comets literally blew up in the sky, taking 54 lives. All that because the square windows were experiencing metal fatigue at their corners. This is why the modern planes all have round windows.

One loose screw that destroyed a space rocket
“To the moon!” said the Russians. “Not a chance!” – said the loose screw.
In 1969 the Soviets launched one of their most expensive space rockets. It survived less than a minute because of one little, tiny, itsy-bitsy screw that got sucked into the fuel pump and BOOM! RIP, Russian space program.

One missing dash cost NASA $80,000,000
In 1962 NASA launched their first interplanetary space probe aimed at Venus. Unfortunately, one tiny line, a silly typo that completely changed its course. NASA had to abort the mission after the first 5 minutes, making it one of the most expensive mistakes in the history of space exploration.

The success of the D-Day landing at Normandy was made possible because of a birthday party
In 1944 German Reich Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was left in charge of the defense of Europe from the Allied Forces, but he decided to take a day-off and head back to Berlin – it was his birthday. On that day, June 6, the allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, which was the beginning of the end of WWII in Europe. From this point on, with one small exception (the Battle of the Bulge) German forces would be on the defensive and retreating back to Germany. Hitler never gave his Generals their birthdays off from that point on.