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Y2K Doomsday Hysteria As the year 2000 approached, dire predictions of 'Y2K' major computer malfunctions were predicted for Monday, January 1, 2000. Why? It was feared that the majority of the world's computers--which operated with only a two-digit date to account for the year--would crash because of the double zero. The doomsday crowd predicted the infrastructures of cities would cease to function, transportation systems would come to a screeching halt, financial institutions would be rendered helpless, and chaos would generally be widespread. Businesses small and large were frantically urged to upgrade their computers by the end of 1999 to four-digit years. Companies that sold survival gear reported increased sales as some overly concerned people prepared for civilization around them to crumble. It didn't happen. Only a few minor incidents were reported on January 1, 2000 and the days that followed--which were all quickly rectified. Among the problems: The clock at the U.S. Naval Observatory claimed the date was 'January 1, 19100.' The same peculiar date was reported on computers at some Japanese government offices. About 150 slot machines would not work at a Delaware casino. A Buffalo, NY man who returned a video rental a day late was given a bill that said he owed more than $36,500. (Presumably the video store's computer calculated a 100-year late fee.) Italy and South Korea, two countries regarded as not being especially well prepared for Y2K, had as few problems as zealously prepared countries, leading many people to conclude the Y2K hand-wringing and hysteria was largely unwarranted.
Tags: Y2K  hysteria  computers 
Added: 17th December 2009
Views: 9321
Rating:
Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2009-12-17 
My friend, a computer programmer, was far more concerned with September 9, 1999. The date 9/9/99, he feared, might be confused by some computers with 9999, a figure commonly entered into computer programs to represent unknown data. When nothing significant happened then, he had no fears about January 1, 2000.

The next computer hysteria, apparently, will concern February 29, 2100--a date that doesn't exist. Most computers are programmed to account for a leap year occurring every four years. The problem is that a year that ends with two zeroes is only a leap year if it's evenly divisible by 400. The year 2000 was, so that wasn't a problem. The year 2100 isn't, so that will be a problem that will have to be addressed in 90 years.
Posted by: Steve on 2009-12-17 
This employed many a programmer at the time. I remember it was so expensive to get a website built because they were all busy with the Y2K thing.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2009-12-17 
Two personal memories of this hysteria come to mind:

A telephone pollster asked me to rate how concerned I was about Y2K problems on a scale of one to ten (with ten being extremely concerned). I said, 'two.' He told me that one of the lowest responses he had gotten, so he asked me why I was so nonchalant about Y2K. I said that calendars and time were created by man as were computers. We've tweaked the calendar on more than one occasion and we rearrange time for our convenience twice a year (daylight savings time). Similarly, we program computers to deal with problems. When a new problem arises, we reprogram the computers. No big deal.

The school boards in my part of Canada were so concerned about computer malfunctions that they delayed resuming classes after the Christmas break an extra week--just in case a major crisis had happened. The school officials loked rather silly.
Posted by: Jedwgrn on 2009-12-17 
Must admit I really didn't care about Y2K and seriously thought it might do some good. Good, in making folks depend on themselves as opposed to relegating their welfare to others rather than taking responsibility for themselves. So, is Big Brother still doing his job? I might be a bit cynical about this.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2009-12-17 
The one thing that Y2K prompted me to do had nothing at all to do with computers. I was inspired to save all my receipts, newspapers, and magazines that had the December 31, 1999 date on them. They are safely stored in a box. Somebody, I'm sure, will find them historically significant someday.
Posted by: TheSaint on 2009-12-20 
These were valid concerns and if companies didn't prepare as they did - it could have created a lot of disruptions. Not sure what good could have came out of power disruptions and bank interruptions, etc
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2010-05-16 
Apparently the next big computer crisis is supposed to happen at the end of February 2100. There are fears computer systms will malfunction because there is no February 29, 2100, but computers will think it exists. (Leap years occur every fourth year--with the exception of years ending in 00. They occur only if the year is evenly divisible by 400.) I won't be around to hear the same type of doomsday predictions we had in 2000.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2012-12-20 
Well, we survived Y2K without too much difficulty. Bring on the Mayan calendar malarkey!
Posted by: Jhonmaik on 2021-01-27 

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