At 2:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, a computer operator in Virginia ignored alarms on the computer that updated Internet address information, leading to problems at several other computers with similar responsibilities. The corruption meant most Internet addresses could not be accessed, resulting in millions of unsent e-mail messages.
What Happened on July 17th
july 17, 1997 Major Disruption in Sending Most E-Mail Messages
A programming error temporarily threw the Internet into disarray in a preview of the difficulties that inevitably accompany a world dependent on e-mail, the World Wide Web, and other electronic communications.