[General-purpose] Computers crash sometimes. How they deal with relaying this to the user is the interesting bit, and the subject of this thread.
Thinking over my years of computer use, there are a few stand-out examples:
- Apple Classic's BOM (Sad-Mac) messages - these pretty much spelled everything out for you, gave you a rough idea of what to do, and cut you loose.
- Amiga's Guru Meditation - A screen would come up saying that the guru was meditating and it'd be a while; the implication was, "something's gone wrong--here's a code to look up if you'd like, but you really need to reboot now."
- UNIX and Unix-like Core Dumps - Black screen. White text. Logfile if you're so inclined. Something bad has happened; if you want to look it up, you're welcome to do so, but you'll be going through logfiles.
- Microsoft Windows's Blue Screen of Death - Like a UNIX core-dump, but with a blue background. And less (default) logging to go look at.
This is FAR from an exhaustive list, but I think that the way an operating system goes about announcing something has gone wrong says a lot about the underlying philosophy of design (and documentation).