Blogs » Digital Babble » Y2K: The disaster that wasn't?



December 31, 1999. I remember it clearly. It was the day before computers would wreak havoc around the world.

Remember that little thing called the Year 2000 Problem? (Also known as Y2K, the millennium bug or the Y2K bug.)

Y2K was supposed to create all sorts of problems on computer systems around the world. And this was all because when computers were first built, they were programmed to run using only two numbers instead of four to indicate the year.

So here comes the year 2000, with its two zeroes, messing up everything. The computer programs would read 00 as the year 1900, all the computers in the world would melt, and we'd all die.

OK, maybe that wasn't exactly what was expected, but people were really scared of what could happen. [Source:]

An article in Computer World mentions some of the worries of 1999:

Among other odd behaviors, here are a few things Shark Bait readers found themselves doing in the the days and months leading up to New Year's Day, 2000.

* Reassuring acquaintances that nuclear power plants weren't going to melt down and their wood-burning furnaces wouldn't cease to function. * Convincing officemates that they needn't stockpile dried fruits, water and fuel for a coming apocalypse. * Patching COBOL code at the last minute that had already been certified as Y2K-compliant -- to the tune of $100K -- by an outside firm. * Restraining over-enthusiastic co-workers from plastering every available surface in the office -- including shredders, scissors and urinals -- with "Y2K-compliant" stickers.


At the place I worked back in 1999, my job was to install patches on all computers so they could be Y2K complaint. I also was on call on the night of December 31, prepared to come in when all the computers melted. They didn't.

And now here we are, ten years later, the lights didn't go out, the nuclear power plants didn't explode, and I'm stuck with a huge supply of canned goods and water. At least I'm ready for hurricane season.