The 20th Anniversary of the Biggest Tech Scare in History: What Lessons Did We Learn from Y2K? What Forgotten?
by Alex Vikoulov [Posted November 8, 2019 11.00 am PST]
At the turn of the millennium, Y2K threatened to kill us all, or at least, that's what doomsayers used to sell
At the end of 1999, there was a lot of excitement in the air about the forthcoming turn of the century and "irrational exuberance" on the stock market which was skyrocketing to new highs. While many were ready to party "like it was 1999," some technology experts warned that computers might stop working on January 1, 2000. It was called the Y2K bug, the Millennium bug or the Year 2000 Problem.
When first computer programs were written in the 1960s, storage was really expensive. To save space, programmers wrote years in two digits rather than four: 1988 becomes 88, 1999 becomes 99. Many believed that enterprise software would not interpret the "00" correctly at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2000, therefore causing a major glitch in the system. That meant that the year 2000 could be just as easily interpreted as 1900. To a computer, this might appear like a jump backwards in time. Or forwards, to 19100, if the computer program in question calculated dates by adding 19 to the front of the abbreviated year.
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