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The origins of error 404

Created on Fri, 30/06/2017 - 09:31 by Peta Brady, Open2Study blog writer 

The origins of the ever-so-pesky error 404 are widely debated, but despite this there does seem to be a reasonably consistent story running through each. And because we've all no doubt encountered this particular error during our travels through the interwebs, I thought 'hey, why not share a little bit of the legend behind it'.

Open2Study 404 error screenshot

Ok, so back in the 1980s a group of clever scientists were busy working away on what would eventually become the World Wide Web, and needed to create a database that would offer open access to data in a variety of formats, or multimedia. This central database was supposedly located on level 4, in room 404 of the office building where they were stationed.

Mario Brothers inspired 404 error message

There were a few people on the team whose job it was to manually locate and transfer requested files over the network and back to the person who requested it. Sounds pretty simple, but as we all know, humans make mistakes! And as more and more requests started to come through, mistakes became more frequent as well. This meant some requests couldn't be transferred - say, due to someone entering the wrong file name - so a generic 'Room 404: File not found' message was programmed to display each time a transfer didn't go through.

Lego inspired 404 error message

Eventually these manual processes became automated, but by then the error message was destined to become the standard HTTP response for the future, and therefore kept the same room number. So I guess, error 404 is kind of a little tribute to the hardworking people who brought us the tool that we all now take for granted every day! I mean, how did people win trivia nights or shop for clothes before the internet?? Interesting to think how all this occurred not so long ago, when you consider how far we've come and how reliant we all are on the web these days.

Stormtrooper 404 error message

Peta BradyThis post is by Open2Study's blog writer, Peta Brady.

Peta Brady is a freelance copywriter, editor, social media enthusiast, and general grammar pest. She loves writing scribbles and correcting errors, as well as changing her hair colour every five minutes and eating all the foods in Melbourne.

Contact Peta at www.theword.bird.com.au or on Instagram @thewordbird_.


i am thoroughly enjoying the open learning free courses i find them very informative and enjoyable.

I always face these type of problems on my website assignment online services and usually, 404 error is created, and now after reading the post of origins error 404, I take some points who can apply for my website. Thanks for the informative.

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