The Y2K scare
The new year of 2020 is arriving on Jan. 1, probably loaded above the rim with numerous explosive news breaks — the presidential election, impeachment efforts, the gathering of census data, worries about international relationships, the climate crisis and dozens of anticipated and surprise stories we can’t even imagine.
But 20 years ago, there was one enormous concern that the cyber world might not survive the global century change.
The point of anxiety was the 2000 year problem, also known as the Y2K problem, the Millennium bug, the Y2K bug, the Y2K glitch or simply, Y2K.
The titles refer to a class of computer bugs related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates beginning in the year 2000.
Problems were anticipated, and arose, because many programs represented four-digit years with only the final two digits — making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900.
The assumption of a 20th-century date in such programs could cause various errors, such as the incorrect display of dates and the inaccurate ordering of automated dated records or real-time events.
In 1997, the British Standards Institute (BSI) developed standard DISC PD2000-1 defining “Year 2000 Conformity requirements” as four rules.
1. No valid date will cause any interruption in operations.
2. Date-based functionality must behave consistently for dates prior to, during and after year 2000.
3. In all interfaces and in all storage, the century must be unambiguous, either specified, or calculable by algorithm.
4. Year 2000 must be recognized as a leap year. By 1999, Antelope Valley had become the planet’s extraordinary center for a wide variety of aerospace activities, leading to this newspaper promoting the region as Aerospace Valley.
In manufacturing, testing, calibrating and all sorts of computer age dilemmas, the Y2K problem provided extremely worrisome situations that might lead to numerous catastrophes.
Companies and organizations in some, but not all countries checked, fixed and upgraded their computer systems to address the anticipated problem. Very few computer failures were reported when the clocks rolled over into 2000.
On Jan. 17, 2000, Scientific American published a story under a headline that said: “The Glitch That Didn’t Steal New Year’s.” “Y2K really did sound pretty ominous. It was said that as the clocks rolled over to the year 2000, unprepared computers would interpret the date as 1900. And this seemingly small error would