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The Black Screen of Death (KSoD or BlSoD) is the black error screen displayed by some operating systems after encountering a critical system error which can cause the system to shut down.
In Windows 3.x the black screen of death is the behaviour that occurred when a DOS-based application failed to execute properly. It was often known to occur in connection with attempting certain operations while networking drivers were resident in memory. (Commonly, but not exclusively, it was seen while the Novell NetWare client for DOS, NETX, was loaded.)
According to Wallace McClure of ASP.net, the phrase was originally coined in mid-1991 by Ed Brown, a technician with The Coca-Cola Company's IT department in Atlanta, GA. He reports that the company was rolling out Windows 3.0 within the Global Marketing group and when the users would attempt to run WordPerfect, they would randomly receive a BlSOD.
Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 also display a Black Screen of Death when the operating system cannot boot. This is usually due to a missing file. This also happens when the user enables file compression on all files and the operating system compresses. Often the user must reinstall Windows, if the missing file is critical to the boot process. However, more often than not the boot screen will inform the user of the missing file. If the operating system is compressed, it will not be able to boot, even into safe mode.
In late 2009 several new reports of the Black Screen of Death in Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 emerged. At first several claims pointed at a Windows Update. It was later recanted by Prevx as an erroneous report. Microsoft reported that no security update was causing the issue, and it may be tied to malicious software, or malware. In other cases, the black screen of death was replaced with the Blue Screen of Death. The Black Screen of Death may also be caused by certain components of a computer becoming too hot (overheating).
Early builds of Windows 8 feature a black screen of death, in place of the traditional blue screen, that appears to indicate a Stop error. The Windows 8 black screen of death is simplified compared to the previous blue screen, omitting instructions that the user is recommended to take.
A black screen can be encountered on numerous other computer systems such as the Nintendo GameCube if the game disc is dirty or damaged or if there is an internal problem with the system such as an illegal operation. The message that displays on-screen is "An error has occurred. Turn the power off and check the Nintendo GameCube instruction booklet for further instructions."