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2 definitions found
 for green lightning
From The Jargon File (version 4.4.7, 29 Dec 2003) :

  green lightning
   n.
  
      [IBM]
  
      1. Apparently random flashing streaks on the face of 3278-9 terminals while
      a new symbol set is being downloaded. This hardware bug was left
      deliberately unfixed, as some genius within IBM suggested it would let the
      user know that ?something is happening?. That, it certainly does. Later
      microprocessor-driven IBM color graphics displays were actually programmed
      to produce green lightning!
  
      2. [proposed] Any bug perverted into an alleged feature by adroit
      rationalization or marketing. ?Motorola calls the CISC cruft in the 88000
      architecture ?compatibility logic?, but I call it green lightning?. See
      also feature (sense 6).
  

From The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (18 March 2015) :

  green lightning
  
     [IBM] 1. Apparently random flashing streaks on the face of
     3278-9 terminals while a new symbol set is being downloaded.
     This hardware bug was left deliberately unfixed, as some
     genius within IBM suggested it would let the user know that
     "something is happening".  That, it certainly does.  Later
     microprocessor-driven IBM colour graphics displays were
     actually *programmed* to produce green lightning!
  
     2. [proposed] Any bug perverted into an alleged feature by
     adroit rationalisation or marketing.  "Motorola calls the CISC
     cruft in the 88000 architecture "compatibility logic", but I
     call it green lightning".  See also feature.
  

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