Tip from the past: System error codes explained

At least the most frequent.

Taken from Personal Computer World, May 1996 issue. Written by Chris Cain.

One of the most annoying things about the MacOS is its lack of proper error messages. How many times has your Mac crashed with “an error of type X”, without telling you exactly what “X” means? To help you out of some of these situations here’s a list of the most common error numbers and their official meanings, as listed by Apple in its Technical Info Library. If you have access to the World Wide Web you can get a more complete list from Apple’s web site (www.apple.com). There are some errors that even the Apple technical documents don’t explain, specifically Type 11. If I find out what these mean I’ll let you know.

  • ID 01 = Bus Error
    A type 01 error usually occurs when the computer tries to access memory that doesn’t exist: you can get this error on almost any Macintosh. In my experience, assigning extra RAM to an application, using its Get Info dialogue, can help prevent it.
  • ID 02 = Address Error
    The Motorola 68000 microprocessor can access memory in increments of one byte (8 bits), or one word (16 bits), or one long word (32 bits). This microprocessor can access a byte of information at either an odd or an even memory address. But it mustaccess one word or one long word at an evenmemory address. So, when the microprocessor attempts to read or write a word (or long word) at an oddaddress, you see this error. Since that’s a 50/50 proposition when running random code, this one shows up quite often.
  • ID 03 = Illegal Instruction
    The computer has a specific vocabulary of machine language instructions it can understand. If it tries to execute an instruction that isn’t in its vocabulary, you see this error code. It’s less likely than error 02 but is nevertheless common.
  • ID 04 = Zero Divide Error
    This error results if the microprocessor divides two numbers, and the divisor is zero. Sometimes a programmer puts these in as debugging aids and forgets to take them out.

2 thoughts on “Tip from the past: System error codes explained

  1. Please explain -6001
    I allowed a Samsung update and now can’t transfer photos from phone to computer, tells me to exit phone editor, can’t find it.

  2. I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. This blog focuses on vintage Macintosh computers and operating systems. Be more specific about your problem or I suggest you find a more appropriate place to ask 🙂


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