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> My favorite was a story from the 1980s of a program which would crash depending on the phase of the Moon!

Do you have a name for this program? It sounds a lot like an urban legend - when would you ever find it easier to parse a date out of an astronomical program than to use actual date handing capabilities from the system or a library?

Here is a reference to a program that crashed based on the phase of the moon for slightly different reasons: http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/P/phase-of-the-moon.html

The one that I described I first remember hearing about in undergrad. I heard it from an astronomy student. I guess that makes it an urban legend, but a highly believable one. In my experience inexperienced programmers are very good at unexpectedly repurposing whatever they happen to know for new purposes. And in an astronomy department it is easy to find inexperienced programmers with astronomical routines at hand.

More that it was including the phase of the moon in the output and it would crash of the output ended up being too long.

I've never heard of this either but early programmers did creative things to work around limitations. It might not be as complicated as we imagine. The first "computer", the Antikythera, was designed for this very purpose.

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