This usage derives from an error message from the IBMOS/360, IBM zOS operating systems. Usually capitalized, but may appear as "abend". It is jocularly claimed to be derived from the German word "Abend" meaning "evening". Folklore stories from IBM also refer to the IBM language JCL being developed during the abortion debate in the United States. In a very early form of being politically correct, IBM revised any JCL that referred to ABORT to ABEND.
Errors or crashes on the NovellNetWare network operating system are usually called ABENDs. Communities of NetWare administrators have sprung up around the Internet, such as abend.org.