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The year 2000 problem, also known as the Y2K problem, Y2K scare, millennium bug, Y2K bug, Y2K glitch, Y2K error, or simply Y2K refers to potential computer errors related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates in and after the year
2000 File:2000 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: Protests against Bush v. Gore after the 2000 United States presidential election; Heads of state meet for the Millennium Summit; The International Space Station in its infant form as seen from ST ...
. Many programs represented four-digit years with only the final two digits, making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900. Computer systems' inability to distinguish dates correctly had the potential to bring down worldwide infrastructures for industries ranging from banking to air travel. In the years leading up to the turn of the century (millennium), the public gradually became aware of the "Y2K scare", and individual companies predicted the global damage caused by the bug would require anything between $400 million and $600 billion to rectify. A lack of clarity regarding the potential dangers of the bug led some to stock up on food, water, and firearms, purchase backup generators, and withdraw large sums of money in anticipation of a computer-induced
apocalypse Apocalypse () is a literary genre A literary genre is a category of literature. Genres may be determined by literary technique, setting tone, tone, Content (media), content, or length (especially for fiction). They generally move from mo ...
. Contrary to published expectations, few major errors occurred in 2000. Supporters of the Y2K remediation effort argued that this was primarily due to the pre-emptive action of many computer programmers and
information technology Information technology (IT) is the use of computers to create, process, store, retrieve, and exchange all kinds of Data (computing), data . and information. IT forms part of information and communications technology (ICT). An information te ...
experts. Companies and organizations in some countries, but not all, had checked, fixed, and upgraded their computer systems to address the problem. Then-
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, who organized efforts to minimize the damage in the United States, labeled Y2K as "the first challenge of the 21st century successfully met", and retrospectives on the event typically commend the programmers who worked to avert the anticipated disaster. Critics pointed out that even in countries where very little had been done to fix software, problems were minimal. The same was true in sectors such as schools and small businesses where compliance with Y2K policies was patchy at best.


Background

Y2K is a numeronym and was the common abbreviation for the year 2000 software problem. The abbreviation combines the letter ''Y'' for "year", the number 2 and a capitalized version of ''k'' for the SI unit prefix kilo meaning 1000; hence, ''2K'' signifies 2000. It was also named the "millennium bug" because it was associated with the popular (rather than literal) rollover of the
millennium A millennium (plural millennia or millenniums) is a period of one thousand years, sometimes called a kiloannus, kiloannum (ka), or kiloyear (ky). Normally, the word is used specifically for periods of a thousand years that begin at the starting ...
, even though most of the problems could have occurred at the end of ''any'' century. ''
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''s 1993 three-page "Doomsday 2000" article by Peter de Jager was called "the information-age equivalent of the midnight ride of Paul Revere" by ''The New York Times''. The problem was the subject of the early book ''Computers in Crisis'' by Jerome and Marilyn Murray (Petrocelli, 1984; reissued by
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under the title ''The Year 2000 Computing Crisis'' in 1996). Its first recorded mention on a
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newsgroup is from 18 January 1985 by Spencer Bolles. The acronym Y2K has been attributed to Massachusetts programmer David Eddy in an e-mail sent on 12 June 1995. He later said, "People were calling it CDC (Century Date Change), FADL (Faulty Date Logic). There were other contenders. Y2K just came off my fingertips." The problem started because on both mainframe computers and later personal computers, storage was expensive, from as low as $10 per kilobyte, to in many cases as much as or even more than US$100 per kilobyte. It was therefore very important for programmers to minimize usage. Since computers only gained wide usage in the 20th century, programs could simply prefix "19" to the year of a date, allowing them to only store the last two digits of the year instead of four. As space on disc and tape was also expensive, these strategies saved money by reducing the size of stored data files and databases in exchange for becoming unusable past the year 2000. This meant that programs facing two-digit years could not distinguish between dates in 1900 and 2000. Dire warnings at times were in the mode of:
The Y2K problem is the electronic equivalent of the El Niño and there will be nasty surprises around the globe. :—
John Hamre John Julian Hamre (born July 3, 1950) is a specialist in international studies, a former Washington, DC, Washington government official and President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a position he has held with that t ...
, United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
Options on the De Jager Year 2000 Index, "the first index enabling investors to manage risk associated with the ... computer problem linked to the year 2000" began trading mid-March 1997. Special committees were set up by governments to monitor remedial work and
contingency plan A contingency plan, also known colloquially as Plan B, is a plan devised for an outcome other than in the usual (expected) plan. It is often used for risk management for an exceptional risk that, though unlikely, would have catastrophic consequen ...
ning, particularly by crucial infrastructures such as telecommunications, utilities and the like, to ensure that the most critical services had fixed their own problems and were prepared for problems with others. While some commentators and experts argued that the coverage of the problem largely amounted to
scaremongering Fearmongering, or scaremongering, is a form of manipulation that causes fear by using exaggerated rumors of impending danger. Theory According to evolutionary psychology, humans have a strong impulse to pay attention to danger because awareness ...
, it was only the safe passing of the main event itself, 1 January 2000, that fully quelled public fears. Some experts who argued that scaremongering was occurring, such as Ross Anderson, professor of
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at the
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, have since claimed that despite sending out hundreds of
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s about research results suggesting that the problem was not likely to be as big as some had suggested, they were largely ignored by the media. In a similar vein, the Microsoft Press book ''Running Office 2000 Professional'', published in May 1999, accurately predicted that most personal computer hardware and software would be unaffected by the year 2000 problem. Authors
Michael Halvorson Michael James Halvorson (born 1 March 1963) is an American technology writer and historian. He was employed at Microsoft, Microsoft Corporation from 1985 to 1993 and contributed to the growth of the Microsoft Office and Visual Basic (classic), Micr ...
and Michael Young characterized most of the worries as popular hysteria, an opinion echoed by Microsoft Corp.


Programming problem

The practice of using two-digit dates for convenience predates computers, but was never a problem until stored dates were used in calculations.


Bit conservation need

Business data processing was done using
unit record equipment Starting at the end of the nineteenth century, well before the advent of electronic computers, data processing was performed using Electromechanics, electromechanical machines collectively referred to as unit record equipment, electric accounting ...
and
punched card A punched card (also punch card or punched-card) is a piece of stiff paper that holds digital data represented by the presence or absence of holes in predefined positions. Punched cards were once common in data processing applications or to di ...
s, most commonly the 80-column variety employed by IBM, which dominated the industry. Many tricks were used to squeeze needed data into fixed-field 80-character records. Saving two digits for every date field was significant in this effort. In the 1960s, computer memory and mass storage were scarce and expensive. Early
core memory Core or cores may refer to: Science and technology * Core (anatomy), everything except the appendages * Core (manufacturing), used in casting and molding * Core (optical fiber) The core of a conventional optical fiber is the part of the ...
cost one dollar per bit. Popular commercial computers, such as the
IBM 1401 The IBM 1401 is a variable word length computer, variable-wordlength decimal computer that was announced by IBM on October 5, 1959. The first member of the highly successful IBM 1400 series, it was aimed at replacing unit record equipment for pr ...
, shipped with as little as 2 kilobytes of memory. Programs often mimicked card processing techniques. Commercial programming languages of the time, such as
COBOL COBOL (; an acronym An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase. Acronyms are usually formed from the initial letters of words, as in ''NATO'' (''North Atlantic Treaty Organization''), but so ...
and RPG, processed numbers in their character representations. Over time, the punched cards were converted to
magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic storage made of a thin, magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic film. It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on the earlier magnetic wire recording from Denmark. Devices that use mag ...
and then disc files, but the structure of the data usually changed very little. Data was still input using punched cards until the mid-1970s. Machine architectures, programming languages and application designs were evolving rapidly. Neither managers nor programmers of that time expected their programs to remain in use for many decades, and the possibility that these programs would both remain in use and cause problems when interacting with databases - a new type of program with different characteristics - went largely uncommented upon.


Early attention

The first person known to publicly address this issue was
Bob Bemer Robert William Bemer (February 8, 1920 – June 22, 2004) was a computer scientist best known for his work at IBM during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Early life and education Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Bemer graduated from Cranbrook ...
, who had noticed it in 1958 as a result of work on genealogical software. He spent the next twenty years trying to make programmers, IBM, the
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and the
International Organization for Standardization The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard development organization composed of representatives from the national standards organizations of member countries. Membership requirements are given in Art ...
aware of the problem, with little result. This included the recommendation that the COBOL picture clause should be used to specify four digit years for dates. In the 1980s, the brokerage industry began to address this issue, mostly because of bonds with maturity dates beyond the year 2000. By 1987 the
New York Stock Exchange The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE, nicknamed "The Big Board") is an American stock exchange in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the List o ...
had reportedly spent over $20 million, including "a team of 100" programmers on Y2K. Despite magazine articles on the subject from 1970 onward, the majority of programmers and managers only started recognizing Y2K as a looming problem in the mid-1990s, but even then, inertia and complacency caused it to be mostly unresolved until the last few years of the decade. In 1989, Erik Naggum was instrumental in ensuring that internet mail used four digit representations of years by including a strong recommendation to this effect in the internet host requirements document . On
April Fools' Day April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day is an annual custom on 1 April consisting of practical joke A practical joke, or prank, is a mischievous trick played on someone, generally causing the victim to experience embarrassment Embarrassmen ...
1998, some companies set their mainframe computer dates to 2001, so that "the wrong date will be perceived as good fun instead of bad computing" while having a full day of testing. While using 3-digit years and 3-digit dates within that year was used by some, others chose to use the number of days since a fixed date, such as 1 January 1900. Inaction was not an option, and risked major failure. Embedded systems with similar date logic were expected to malfunction and cause utilities and other crucial infrastructure to fail. Saving space on stored dates persisted into the Unix era, with most systems representing dates to a single 32-bit word, typically representing dates as elapsed seconds from some fixed date, which causes the similar Y2K38 problem.


Resulting bugs from date programming

Storage of a combined date and time within a fixed binary field is often considered a solution, but the possibility for software to misinterpret dates remains because such date and time representations must be relative to some known origin. Rollover of such systems is still a problem but can happen at varying dates and can fail in various ways. For example: * An upscale grocer's 1997 credit-card caused crash of their 10 cash registers, repeatedly, due to year 2000 expiration dates, and was the source of the first Y2K-related lawsuit. * The
Microsoft Excel Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet developed by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows, Windows, macOS, Android (operating system), Android and iOS. It features calculation or computation capabilities, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro (comp ...
spreadsheet program had a very elementary Y2K problem: Excel (in both Windows and Mac versions, when they are set to start at 1900) incorrectly set the year 1900 as a leap year for compatibility with Lotus 1-2-3. In addition, the years 2100, 2200, and so on, were regarded as leap years. This bug was fixed in later versions, but since the
epoch In chronology and periodization, an epoch or reference epoch is an instant in time chosen as the origin of a particular calendar era A calendar era is the period of time elapsed since one ''epoch'' of a calendar and, if it exists, before the ...
of the Excel timestamp was set to the meaningless date of 0 January 1900 in previous versions, the year 1900 is still regarded as a leap year to maintain backward compatibility. * In the
C programming language ''The C Programming Language'' (sometimes termed ''K&R'', after its authors' initials) is a computer programming book written by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie, the latter of whom originally designed and implemented the language, as well as ...
, the standard library function to extract the year from a timestamp returns the year minus 1900. Many programs using functions from C, such as
Perl Perl is a family of two high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming languages. "Perl" refers to Perl 5, but from 2000 to 2019 it also referred to its redesigned "sister language", Perl 6, before the latter's name was offi ...
and
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, two programming languages widely used in web development, incorrectly treated this value as the last two digits of the year. On the web this was usually a harmless presentation bug, but it did cause many dynamically generated web pages to display 1 January 2000 as "1/1/19100", "1/1/100", or other variants, depending on the display format. *
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was changed due to concerns over the Y2K bug, and the return value for years changed and thus differed between versions from sometimes being a four digit representation and sometimes a two-digit representation forcing programmers to rewrite already working code to make sure web pages worked for all versions. * Older applications written for the commonly used UNIX Source Code Control System failed to handle years that began with the digit "2". * In the Windows 3.x file manager, dates displayed as 1/1/19:0 for 1/1/2000 (because the colon is the character after "9" in the
ASCII ASCII ( ), abbreviated from American Standard Code for Information Interchange, is a character encoding standard for electronic communication. ASCII codes represent text in computers, telecommunications equipment, and other devices. Because of ...
character set). An update was available. * Some software, such as Math Blaster Episode I: In Search of Spot which only treats years as two-digit values instead of four, will give a given year as "1900", "1901", and so on, depending on the last two digits of the present year.


Similar date bugs


4 January 1975

The date of 4 January 1975 overflowed the 12-bit field that had been used in the Decsystem 10 operating systems. There were numerous problems and crashes related to this bug while an alternative format was developed.


9 September 1999

Even before 1 January 2000 arrived, there were also some worries about 9 September 1999 (albeit less than those generated by Y2K). Because this date could also be written in the numeric format 9/9/99, it could have conflicted with the date value 9999, frequently used to specify an unknown date. It was thus possible that database programs might act on the records containing unknown dates on that day. Data entry operators commonly entered 9999 into required fields for an unknown future date, (e.g., a termination date for cable television or telephone service), in order to process computer forms using
CICS IBM CICS (Customer Information Control System) is a family of mixed-language application servers that provide online transaction management and connectivity for applications on IBM mainframe systems under z/OS and z/VSE. CICS family products ...
software. Somewhat similar to this is the end-of-file code 9999, used in older programming languages. While fears arose that some programs might unexpectedly terminate on that date, the bug was more likely to confuse computer operators than machines.


Leap years

Normally, a year is a leap year if it is evenly divisible by four. A year divisible by 100 is not a leap year in the Gregorian calendar unless it is also divisible by 400. For example, 1600 was a leap year, but 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not. Some programs may have relied on the oversimplified rule that "a year divisible by four is a leap year". This method works fine for the year 2000 (because it is a leap year), and will not become a problem until 2100, when older legacy programs will likely have long since been replaced. Other programs contained incorrect leap year logic, assuming for instance that no year divisible by 100 could be a leap year. An assessment of this ''leap year problem'' including a number of real-life code fragments appeared in 1998. For information on why century years are treated differently, see
Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most parts of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a modification of, and replacement for, the Julian calendar. The principal change was to space leap years diffe ...
.


Year 2010 problem

Some systems had problems once the year rolled over to 2010. This was dubbed by some in the media as the "Y2K+10" or "Y2.01K" problem. The main source of problems was confusion between hexadecimal number encoding and
binary-coded decimal In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , ha ...
encodings of numbers. Both hexadecimal and BCD encode the numbers 0–9 as 0x0–0x9. BCD encodes the number 10 as 0x10, while hexadecimal encodes the number 10 as 0x0A; 0x10 interpreted as a hexadecimal encoding represents the number 16. For example, because the SMS protocol uses BCD for dates, some mobile phone software incorrectly reported dates of SMSes as 2016 instead of 2010.
Windows Mobile Windows Mobile is a discontinued family of mobile operating systems developed by Microsoft for smartphones and personal digital assistants. Its origin dated back to Windows CE in 1996, though Windows Mobile itself first appeared in 2000 as Pock ...
is the first software reported to have been affected by this glitch; in some cases WM6 changes the date of any incoming SMS message sent after 1 January 2010 from the year 2010 to 2016. Other systems affected include
EFTPOS Electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS; ) is an electronic payment system involving electronic funds transfers based on the use of payment cards, such as debit card, debit or credit cards, at payment terminals located at points of sa ...
terminals, and the
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(except the Slim model). The most important occurrences of such a glitch were in Germany, where up to 20 million bank cards became unusable, and with Citibank Belgium, whose digipass customer identification chips failed.


Year 2022 problem

Known as the Y2K22 bug. The maximum value of a signed 32-bit integer, as used in many computer systems, is 2147483647. Systems using an integer to represent a 10 character date-based field, where the leftmost two characters are the 2-digit year, ran into an issue on 1 January 2022 when the leftmost characters needed to be '22', i.e. values from 2200000001 needed to be represented. Microsoft's Exchange server was one of the most famous and significant systems affected by the Y22 bug. The problem caused emails to be stuck on transport queues on Exchange Server 2016 and Exchange Server 2019, reporting the following error: “The FIP-FS “Microsoft” Scan Engine failed to load. PID: 23092, Error Code: 0x80004005. Error Description: Can't convert “2201010001” to long.”


Year 2038 problem

Many systems use
Unix time Current Unix time () Unix time is a date and time representation widely used in computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experiment ...
and store it in a signed 32-bit integer. This data type is only capable of representing integers between −(2) and (2)−1, treated as number of seconds since the epoch at 1 January 1970 at 00:00:00 UTC. These systems can only represent times between 13 December 1901 at 20:45:52 UTC and 19 January 2038 at 03:14:07 UTC. If these systems are not updated and fixed, then dates all across the world that rely on Unix time will wrongfully display the year as 1901 beginning at 03:14:08 UTC on 19 January 2038.


Programming solutions

Several very different approaches were used to solve the year 2000 problem in legacy systems. Several of them follow: ; Date expansion : Two-digit years were expanded to include the century (becoming four-digit years) in programs, files, and databases. This was considered the "purest" solution, resulting in unambiguous dates that are permanent and easy to maintain. This method was costly, requiring massive testing and conversion efforts, and usually affecting entire systems. ; Date windowing : Two-digit years were retained, and programs determined the century value only when needed for particular functions, such as date comparisons and calculations. (The century "window" refers to the 100-year period to which a date belongs.) This technique, which required installing small patches of code into programs, was simpler to test and implement than date expansion, thus much less costly. While not a permanent solution, windowing fixes were usually designed to work for many decades. This was thought acceptable, as older legacy systems tend to eventually get replaced by newer technology. ; Date compression : Dates can be compressed into binary 14-bit numbers. This allows retention of
data structure alignment Data structure alignment is the way data is arranged and accessed in computer memory. It consists of three separate but related issues: data alignment, data structure padding, and packing. The Central processing unit, CPU in modern computer har ...
, using an
integer An integer is the number zero (), a positive natural number (, , , etc.) or a negative integer with a minus sign (−1, −2, −3, etc.). The negative numbers are the additive inverses of the corresponding positive numbers. In the language of ...
value for years. Such a scheme is capable of representing 16384 different years; the exact scheme varies by the selection of
epoch In chronology and periodization, an epoch or reference epoch is an instant in time chosen as the origin of a particular calendar era A calendar era is the period of time elapsed since one ''epoch'' of a calendar and, if it exists, before the ...
. ; Date re-partitioning : In legacy databases whose size could not be economically changed, six-digit year/month/day codes were converted to three-digit years (with 1999 represented as 099 and 2001 represented as 101, etc.) and three-digit days ( ordinal date in year). Only input and output instructions for the date fields had to be modified, but most other date operations and whole record operations required no change. This delays the eventual roll-over problem to the end of the year 2899. ; Software kits : Software kits, such as those listed in CNN.com's ''Top 10 Y2K fixes for your PC'': ("most ... free") which was topped by the $50 ''Millennium Bug Kit''. ; Bridge programs : Date servers where Call statements are used to access, add or update date fields.


Documented errors


Before 2000

* On 1 January 1999, taxi meters in Singapore stopped working, while in Sweden, incorrect taxi fares were given. * On 28 December 1999, 10,000 card swipe machines issued by
HSBC HSBC Holdings plc is a British multinational corporation, multinational universal bank and financial services holding company. It is the largest bank in Europe by total assets ahead of BNP Paribas, with US$2.953 trillion as of December 2021. In ...
and manufactured by
Racal Racal Electronics plc was a British electronics company that was founded in 1950. Listed on the London Stock Exchange and once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index, Racal was a diversified company, offering products including voice loggers and ...
stopped processing credit and debit card transactions. The stores relied on paper transactions until the machines started working again on 1 January.


On 1 January 2000

When 1 January 2000 arrived, there were problems generally regarded as minor. Consequences did not always result exactly at midnight. Some programs were not active at that moment and problems would only show up when they were invoked. Not all problems recorded were directly linked to Y2K programming in a
causality Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is influence by which one event, process, state, or object (''a'' ''cause'') contributes to the production of another event, process, state, or object (an ''effect'') where the ca ...
; minor technological glitches occur on a regular basis. Reported problems include: * In Australia, bus ticket validation machines in two states failed to operate. * In Ishikawa, Japan, radiation monitoring equipment failed at midnight. Officials said there was no risk to the public. * In Onagawa, Japan, an alarm sounded at a nuclear power plant at two minutes after midnight. * In Japan, at two minutes past midnight, the telecommunications carrier Osaka Media Port found errors in the date management part of the company's network. The problem was fixed by 02:43 and no services were disrupted. * In Japan, NTT Mobile Communications Network ( NTT Docomo), Japan's largest cellular operator, reported that some models of mobile telephones were deleting new messages received, rather than the older messages, as the memory filled up. * In France, the national weather forecasting service,
Météo-France Météo-France is the French national meteorological Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences (which include atmospheric chemistry and physics) with a major focus on weather forecasting Weather forecasting is the applicati ...
, said a Y2K bug made the date on a webpage show a map with Saturday's weather forecast as "01/01/19100". * In
Sheffield Sheffield is a city status in the United Kingdom, city in South Yorkshire, England, whose name derives from the River Sheaf which runs through it. The city serves as the administrative centre of the City of Sheffield. It is Historic counties o ...
, United Kingdom, a Y2K bug caused miscalculation of the mothers' age and sent incorrect risk assessments for
Down syndrome Down syndrome or Down's syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is usually associated with child development, physical growth delays, mild to moderate ...
to 154 pregnant women. As a direct result two abortions were carried out, and four babies with Down syndrome were also born to mothers who had been told they were in the low-risk group. * In the United States, the US Naval Observatory, which runs the master clock that keeps the country's official time, gave the date on its website as 1 Jan 19100. *In the United States, as a direct result of the Y2K glitch, at midnight computers at a ground control station ceased processing information from an unspecified number of
spy satellite A reconnaissance satellite or intelligence satellite (commonly, although unofficially, referred to as a spy satellite) is an Earth observation satellite or communications satellite deployed for Military intelligence, military or espionag ...
s. The military implemented a contingency plan by 03:00 am, and restored all normal functionality in approximately two days. * In the United States, 150 Delaware Lottery
racino A racino is a combined race track A race track (racetrack, racing track or racing circuit) is a facility built for racing of vehicles, athletes, or animals (e.g. horse racing or greyhound racing). A race track also may feature grandstands o ...
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s stopped working.


After January 2000


On 29 February and 1 March 2000

Problems were reported on February 29 2000, Y2K's first Leap Year Day, and 1 March 2000. These were mostly minor. * In Japan, around five percent of post office cash dispensers failed to work and data from weather bureau computers was corrupted, causing them to release inaccurate readings. * In Bulgaria, police documents were issued with expiration dates of 29 February 2005 and 29 February 2010 (which are not leap years) and the system defaulted to 1900. * In the United States, the Coast Guard's message processing system was affected. * At Reagan National Airport, check-in lines lengthened after baggage handling programs were affected. * At
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south of
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, on February 29th records of aircraft maintenance parts could not be accessed.


On 31 December 2000 or 1 January 2001

Some software did not correctly recognize 2000 as a leap year, and so worked on the basis of the year having 365 days. On the last day of 2000 (day 366) these systems exhibited various errors. These were generally minor. *In Norway, some trains were delayed until their clocks were put back by a month. *The Swedish bank
Nordbanken Nordea Bank Abp, commonly referred to as Nordea, is a European financial Finance is the study and discipline of money, currency and capital assets. It is related to, but not synonymous with economics, the study of Production (economics), pr ...
reported that its online and physical banking systems went down 5 times between December 27, 2000, and January 3rd, 2001, which was believed to be due to the Y2K glitch. *A "Y2K-like bug" affected a New York City government wireless system that was down for 10 days because of a GPS system's date-rollover problem. Infrastructure affected included "traffic lights, license-plate readers used by cops and other key functions." *A large number of cash registers at the convenience store chain
7-Eleven 7-Eleven, Inc., stylized as 7-ELEVE, is a multinational chain of retail convenience stores, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. The chain was founded in 1927 as an ice house (building), ice house storefront in Dallas. It was named Tote'm Stores bet ...
stopped working for card transactions on January 1st, 2001, despite not having had any prior glitches. 7-Eleven reported the registers had been restored to complete functionality within two days. *In
Multnomah County, Oregon Multnomah County is one of the Oregon counties, 36 counties in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2020 United States census, 2020 census, the county's population was 815,428. Multnomah County is part of the Portland, Oregon, Portland–Vancouv ...
, in early January approximately 3,000 residents received jury duty summonses for dates in 1901. Due to using two-digit years when entering the summons dates, courthouse employees had not seen that the computer had inaccurately rolled over the year.


Since 2000

Since 2000, various issues have occurred due to errors involving overflows. An issue with time tagging caused the destruction of the NASA ''Deep Impact'' spacecraft. Some software used a process called date windowing to fix the issue by interpreting years 00-19 as 2000–2019 and 20–99 as 1920–1999. As a result, a new wave of problems started appearing in 2020, including parking meters in New York City refusing to accept credit cards, issues with Novitus
point of sale The point of sale (POS) or point of purchase (POP) is the time and place at which a retail transaction is completed. At the point of sale, the merchant calculates the amount owed by the customer, indicates that amount, may prepare an invoice f ...
units, and some utility companies printing bills listing the year 1920.


Government responses


Bulgaria

Although only two digits are allocated for the birth year in the Bulgarian national identification number, the year 1900 problem and subsequently the Y2K problem were addressed by the use of unused values above 12 in the month range. For all persons born before 1900, the month is stored as the calendar month plus 20, and for all persons born in or after 2000, the month is stored as the calendar month plus 40.


Canada

Canadian Prime Minister The prime minister of Canada (french: premier ministre du Canada, link=no) is the head of government of Canada. Under the Westminster system, the prime minister governs with the Confidence and supply, confidence of a majority the elected Hou ...
Jean Chrétien's most important cabinet ministers were ordered to remain in the capital
Ottawa Ottawa (, ; Canadian French: ) is the capital city A capital city or capital is the municipality holding primary status in a country, state, province, Department (country subdivision), department, or other subnational entity, usually as i ...
, and gathered at
24 Sussex Drive 24 Sussex Drive, originally called ''Gorffwysfa'' and usually referred to simply as 24 Sussex, is the official residence An official residence is the House, residence of a head of state, head of government, governor, Clergy, religious leader, le ...
, the prime minister's residence, to watch the clock. 13,000 Canadian troops were also put on standby.


Netherlands

The Dutch Government promoted Y2K Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) to share readiness between industries, without threat of antitrust violations or liability based on information shared.


Norway and Finland

Norway and Finland changed their
national identification number A national identification number, national identity number, or national insurance number or JMBG/EMBG is used by the governments of many countries as a means of tracking system, tracking their citizens, Permanent residency, permanent residents, a ...
, to indicate the century in which a person was born. In both countries, the birth year was historically indicated by two digits only. This numbering system had already given rise to a similar problem, the " Year 1900 problem", which arose due to problems distinguishing between people born in the 20th and 19th centuries. Y2K fears drew attention to an older issue, while prompting a solution to a new problem. In Finland, the problem was solved by replacing the hyphen ("-") in the number with the letter "A" for people born in the 21st century (for people born before 1900, the sign was already "+"). In Norway, the range of the individual numbers following the birth date was altered from 0–499 to 500–999.


Romania

Romania also changed its national identification number in response to the Y2K problem, due to the birth year being represented by only two digits. Before 2000, the first digit, which shows the person's gender, was 1 for males and 2 for females. Starting from 1 January 2000, the Romanian national identification number starts with 5 for males and 6 for females.


Uganda

The Ugandan government responded to the Y2K threat by setting up a Y2K Task Force. In August 1999 an independent international assessment by the World Bank International Y2k Cooperation Centre found that Uganda's website was in the top category as "highly informative". This put Uganda in the "top 20" out of 107 national governments, and on a par with the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Japan, and ahead of Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland which were rated as only "somewhat informative". The report said that "Countries which disclose more Y2K information will be more likely to maintain public confidence in their own countries and in the international markets."


United States

In 1998, the
United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the Federation#Federal governments, national government of the United States, a federal republic located primarily in North America, composed of 50 ...
responded to the Y2K threat by passing the Year 2000 Information and Readiness Disclosure Act, by working with private sector counterparts in order to ensure readiness, and by creating internal continuity of operations plans in the event of problems and set limits to certain potential liabilities of companies with respect to disclosures about their year 2000 program. The effort was coordinated by the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, headed by John Koskinen, in coordination with the then-independent
Federal Emergency Management Agency The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), initially created under President Jimmy Carter by Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978 and implemented by two Exec ...
(FEMA), and an interim
Critical Infrastructure Protection Critical infrastructure protection (CIP) is a concept that relates to the preparedness and response to serious incidents that involve the critical infrastructure of a region or nation. The American Presidential directive PDD-63 of May 1998 set up ...
Group, then in the Department of Justice, now in
Homeland Security Homeland security is an American national security term for "the national effort to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards where American interests, aspirations, and ways of life can thrive" to ...
. The US government followed a three-part approach to the problem: (1) outreach and advocacy, (2) monitoring and assessment, and (3) contingency planning and regulation.  A feature of US government outreach was Y2K websites including Y2K.GOV, many of which have become inaccessible in the years since 2000. Some of these websites have been archived by the
National Archives and Records Administration The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an "Independent agencies of the United States government, independent federal agency of the United States government within the executive branch", charged with the preservation and doc ...
or the
Wayback Machine The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web founded by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, California. Created in 1996 and launched to the public in 2001, it allows the user to go "back in time" and see ...
. Each federal agency had its own Y2K task force which worked with its private sector counterparts; the FCC had the FCC Year 2000 Task Force. Most industries had contingency plans that relied upon the internet for backup communications. As no federal agency had clear authority with regard to the internet at this time (it had passed from the US Department of Defense to the US National Science Foundation and then to the US Department of Commerce), no agency was assessing the readiness of the internet itself. Therefore, on 30 July 1999, the White House held the White House Internet Y2K Roundtable. The U.S. government also established the Center for Year 2000 Strategic Stability as a joint operation with the Russian Federation. It was a liaison operation designed to mitigate the possibility of false positive readings in each nation's nuclear attack early warning systems.


International cooperation

The International Y2K Cooperation Center (IY2KCC) was established at the behest of national Y2K coordinators from over 120 countries when they met at the First Global Meeting of National Y2K Coordinators at the United Nations in December 1998. IY2KCC established an office in Washington, D.C. in March 1999. Funding was provided by the World Bank, and Bruce W. McConnell was appointed as director. IY2KCC's mission was to "promote increased strategic cooperation and action among governments, peoples, and the private sector to minimize adverse Y2K effects on the global society and economy." Activities of IY2KCC were conducted in six areas: * National Readiness: Promoting Y2K programs worldwide * Regional Cooperation: Promoting and supporting co-ordination within defined geographic areas * Sector Cooperation: Promoting and supporting co-ordination within and across defined economic sectors * Continuity and Response Cooperation: Promoting and supporting co-ordination to ensure essential services and provisions for emergency response * Information Cooperation: Promoting and supporting international information sharing and publicity * Facilitation and Assistance: Organizing global meetings of Y2K coordinators and to identify resources IY2KCC closed down in March 2000.


Private sector response

* The United States established the ''Year 2000 Information and Readiness Disclosure Act'', which limited the liability of businesses who had properly disclosed their Y2K readiness. * Insurance companies sold insurance policies covering failure of businesses due to Y2K problems. * Attorneys organized and mobilized for Y2K class action lawsuits (which were not pursued). * Survivalist-related businesses (gun dealers, surplus and sporting goods) anticipated increased business in the final months of 1999 in an event known as the Y2K scare. * The Long Now Foundation, which (in their words) "seeks to promote 'slower/better' thinking and to foster creativity in the framework of the next 10,000 years", has a policy of anticipating the Year 10,000 problem by writing all years with five digits. For example, they list "01996" as their year of founding. * While there was no one comprehensive internet Y2K effort, multiple internet trade associations and organisations banded together to form the Internet Year 2000 Campaign. This effort partnered with the White House's Internet Y2K Roundtable. The Y2K issue was a major topic of discussion in the late 1990s and as such showed up in most popular media. A number of "Y2K disaster" books were published such as ''Deadline Y2K'' by Mark Joseph. Movies such as ''Y2K: Year to Kill'' capitalized on the currency of Y2K, as did numerous TV shows, comic strips, and computer games.


Fringe group responses

A variety of fringe groups and individuals such as those within some fundamentalist religious organizations,
survivalists Survivalism is a social movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists or preppers) who proactively prepare for emergency, emergencies, such as natural disasters, as well as other disasters causing disruption to social order (that is, c ...
, cults, anti-social movements,
self-sufficiency Self-sustainability and self-sufficiency are overlapping states of being in which a person or organization needs little or no help from, or interaction with, others. Self-sufficiency entails the self being enough (to fulfill needs), and a self-s ...
enthusiasts,
communes An intentional community is a voluntary residential community which is designed to have a high degree of group cohesiveness, social cohesion and teamwork from the start. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, po ...
and those attracted to
conspiracy theories A conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful groups, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable.Additional sources: * * * * The term has a nega ...
, embraced Y2K as a tool to engender fear and provide a form of evidence for their respective theories. End-of-the-world scenarios and apocalyptic themes were common in their communication. Interest in the survivalist movement peaked in 1999 in its second wave for that decade, triggered by Y2K fears. In the time before extensive efforts were made to rewrite computer programming codes to mitigate the possible impacts, some writers such as Gary North, Ed Yourdon,
James Howard Kunstler James Howard Kunstler (born October 19, 1948) is an American author, social critic, public speaker, and blogger. He is best known for his books ''The Geography of Nowhere'' (1994), a history of American suburbia and urban development, ''The Long ...
, and Ed Yardeni anticipated widespread power outages, food and gasoline shortages, and other emergencies. North and others raised the alarm because they thought Y2K code fixes were not being made quickly enough. While a range of authors responded to this wave of concern, two of the most survival-focused texts to emerge were ''Boston on Y2K'' (1998) by Kenneth W. Royce, and Mike Oehler's ''The Hippy Survival Guide to Y2K''. Y2K was also exploited by some fundamentalist and
charismatic Charisma () is a personal quality of presence or charm that compels its subjects. Scholars in sociology, political science, psychology, and management reserve the term for a type of leadership seen as extraordinary; in these fields, the term "ch ...
Christian leaders throughout the Western world, particularly in North America and Australia. Their promotion of the perceived risks of Y2K was combined with end times thinking and apocalyptic prophecies in an attempt to influence followers. The ''
New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'' reported in late 1999, "The Rev.
Jerry Falwell Jerry Laymon Falwell Sr. (August 11, 1933 – May 15, 2007) was an American Baptist pastor, televangelism, televangelist, and conservatism in the United States, conservative activist. He was the founding pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, ...
suggested that Y2K would be the confirmation of Christian
prophecy In religion, a prophecy is a message that has been communicated to a person (typically called a ''prophet'') by a supernatural entity. Prophecies are a feature of many cultures and belief systems and usually contain divine will or divine law, la ...
 — God's instrument to shake this nation, to humble this nation. The Y2K crisis might incite a worldwide revival that would lead to the
rapture The rapture is an Christian eschatology, eschatological position held by some Christians, particularly those of American evangelicalism, consisting of an Eschatology, end-time event when all Christian believers who are alive, along with resurre ...
of the church. Along with many survivalists, Mr. Falwell advised stocking up on food and guns". Adherents in these movements were encouraged to engage in food hoarding, take lessons in self-sufficiency, and the more extreme elements planned for a total collapse of modern society. The ''
Chicago Tribune The ''Chicago Tribune'' is a daily newspaper based in Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive Map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes ...
'' reported that some large fundamentalist churches, motivated by Y2K, were the sites for
flea market A flea market (or swap meet) is a type of street Marketplace, market that provides space for vendors to sell Used good, previously-owned (second-hand) goods. This type of market is often seasonal. However, in recent years there has been the d ...
-like sales of paraphernalia designed to help people survive a social order crisis ranging from gold coins to wood-burning stoves. Betsy Hart, writing for the ''
Deseret News The ''Deseret News'' () is the oldest continuously operating publication in the American west. Its multi-platform products feature journalism and commentary across the fields of politics, culture, family life, faith, sports, and entertainment. Th ...
'', reported that a lot of the more extreme evangelicals used Y2K to promote a political agenda in which downfall of the government was a desired outcome in order to usher in Christ's reign. She also noted that, "the cold truth is that preaching chaos is profitable and calm doesn't sell many tapes or books". These types of fears and conspiracies were described dramatically by New Zealand-based Christian prophetic author and preacher Barry Smith in his publication, "I Spy with my Little Eye", where he dedicated a whole chapter to Y2K. Some expected, at times through so-called prophecies, that Y2K would be the beginning of a worldwide Christian revival. It became clear in the aftermath that leaders of these fringe groups had used fears of apocalyptic outcomes to manipulate followers into dramatic scenes of mass repentance or renewed commitment to their groups, additional giving of funds and more overt commitment to their respective organizations or churches. The ''
Baltimore Sun ''The Baltimore Sun'' is the largest general-circulation daily newspaper based in the U.S. state of Maryland and provides coverage of local and regional news, events, issues, people, and industries. Founded in 1837, it is currently owned by Tri ...
'' noted this in their article, "Apocalypse Now — Y2K spurs fears", where they reported the increased call for repentance in the populace in order to avoid God's wrath. Christian leader, Col Stringer, in his commentary has published, "Fear-creating writers sold over 45 million books citing every conceivable catastrophe from civil war, planes dropping from the sky to the end of the civilized world as we know it. Reputable preachers were advocating food storage and a "head for the caves" mentality. No banks failed, no planes crashed, no wars or civil war started. And yet not one of these prophets of doom has ever apologized for their scare-mongering tactics." Some prominent North American Christian ministries and leaders generated huge personal and corporate profits through sales of Y2K preparation kits, generators, survival guides, published prophecies and a wide range of other associated merchandise. Christian journalist, Rob Boston, has documented this in his article "False Prophets, Real Profits — Religious Right Leaders' Wild Predictions of Y2K Disaster Didn't Come True, But They Made Money Anyway".


Cost

The total cost of the work done in preparation for Y2Kwhich was well underway by 1996: is estimated at over US$300 billion ($ billion as of January 2018, once inflation is taken into account). IDC calculated that the US spent an estimated $134 billion ($ billion) preparing for Y2K, and another $13 billion ($ billion) fixing problems in 2000 and 2001. Worldwide, $308 billion ($ billion) was estimated to have been spent on Y2K remediation.


Remedial work organization

The remedial work was driven by customer demand for solutions. Software suppliers, mindful of their potential legal liability, responded with remedial effort. Software subcontractors were required to certify that their software components were free of date-related problems, which drove further work down the supply chain. By 1999, many corporations required their suppliers to certify, often on their own variation of a basic form, that all of their software is Y2K compliant. Some merely accepted remedial updates and then signed. Many businesses or even whole countries who spent little effort themselves nonetheless suffered only minor problems.


Results

There are two ways to view the events of 2000 from the perspective of its aftermath:


Supporting view

This view holds that the vast majority of problems were fixed correctly, and the money spent was at least partially justified. The situation was essentially one of preemptive alarm. Those who hold this view claim that the lack of problems at the date change reflects the completeness of the project, and that many computer applications would not have continued to function into the 21st century without correction or remediation. Expected problems that were not seen by small businesses and small organizations were prevented by Y2K fixes embedded in routine updates to operating system and utility software that were applied several years before 31 December 1999. The extent to which larger industry and government fixes averted issues that would have more significant impacts had they not been fixed, were typically not disclosed or widely reported.James Christie, (12 January 2015), Y2K – why I know it was a real problem, 'Claro Testing Blog'
(accessed 12 January 2015)
It has been suggested that on 11 September 2001, infrastructure in New York City (including subways, phone service, and financial transactions) was able to continue operation because of the redundant networks established in the event of Y2K bug impact and the contingency plans devised by companies. The terrorist attacks and the following prolonged blackout to
lower Manhattan Lower Manhattan (also known as Downtown Manhattan or Downtown New York) is the southernmost part of Manhattan, the central Boroughs of New York City, borough for business, culture, and Government of New York City, government in New York City, whi ...
had minimal effect on global banking systems. Backup systems were activated at various locations around the region, many of which had been established to deal with a possible complete failure of networks in Manhattan's
Financial District A financial district is usually a central area in a city where financial services firms such as bank A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates a demand deposit while simultaneously making lo ...
on 31 December 1999.


Opposing view

The contrary view asserts that there were no, or very few, critical problems to begin with. This view also asserts that there would have been only a few minor mistakes and that a "fix on failure" approach would have been the most efficient and cost-effective way to solve these problems as they occurred. International Data Corporation estimated that the US might have wasted $40 billion. Sceptics of the need for a massive effort pointed to the absence of Y2K-related problems occurring before 1 January 2000, even though the 2000 financial year commenced in 1999 in many jurisdictions, and a wide range of forward-looking calculations involved dates in 2000 and later years. Estimates undertaken in the leadup to 2000 suggested that around 25% of all problems should have occurred before 2000. Critics of large-scale remediation argued during 1999 that the absence of significant reported problems in non-compliant small firms was evidence that there had been, and would be, no serious problems needing to be fixed in ''any'' firm, and that the scale of the problem had therefore been severely overestimated. Countries such as South Korea and Russia invested little to nothing in Y2K remediation, yet had the same negligible Y2K problems as countries that spent enormous sums of money. Western countries anticipated such severe problems in Russia that many issued travel advisories and evacuated non-essential staff Critics also cite the lack of Y2K-related problems in schools, many of which undertook little or no remediation effort. By 1 September 1999, only 28% of US schools had achieved compliance for mission critical systems, and a government report predicted that "Y2K failures could very well plague the computers used by schools to manage payrolls, student records, online curricula, and building safety systems". Similarly, there were few Y2K-related problems in an estimated 1.5 million small businesses that undertook no remediation effort. On 3 January 2000 (the first weekday of the year), the
Small Business Administration The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent agency of the United States government that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The mission of the Small Business Administration is "to maintain and st ...
received an estimated 40 calls from businesses with computer issues, similar to the average. None of the problems were critical..


See also

* 512k day: an event in 2014, involving a software limitation in network routers *
IPv4 address exhaustion IPv4 address exhaustion is the depletion of the pool of unallocated IPv4 addresses. Because the original Internet architecture had fewer than 4.3 1000000000 (number), billion addresses available, depletion has been anticipated since the late 19 ...
, problems caused by the limited allocation size for numeric internet addresses *
ISO 8601 ISO 8601 is an international standard covering the worldwide exchange and communication of Calendar date, date and time-related data. It is maintained by the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and was first publish ...
, an international standard for representing dates and times, which mandates the use of (at least) four digits for the year * " Life's a Glitch, Then You Die" is a "Treehouse of Horror segment" from ''The Simpsons'' eleventh season. The segment sees Homer forget to make his company's computers Y2K-compliant and this caused a virus to be unleashed upon the world * Perpetual calendar, a calendar valid for many years, including before and after 2000 * '' Y2K'', a 1999 American
made-for-television A television film, alternatively known as a television movie, made-for-TV film/movie or TV film/movie, is a feature film, feature-length film that is produced and originally distributed by or to a television network, in contrast to theatrical f ...
science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to Sci-Fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imagination, imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, Paral ...
-
thriller film Thriller film, also known as suspense film or suspense thriller, is a broad film genre that evokes excitement and suspense in the audience. The suspense element found in most films' plots is particularly exploited by the filmmaker in this genr ...
directed by Dick Lowry * YEAR2000, a configuration setting supported by some versions of DR-DOS to overcome Year 2000 BIOS bugs *
Millennium celebrations The millennium celebrations were a worldwide, coordinated series of events to celebrate and commemorate the end of 1999 and the start of the year 2000 in the Gregorian calendar. The celebrations were held as marking the end of the 2nd millennium ...
, a worldwide, coordinated series of events to celebrate and commemorate the end of 1999 and the start of the year 2000 in the Gregorian calendar.


Notes


References


External links


Center for Y2K and Society Records
Charles Babbage Institute The IT History Society (ITHS) is an organization that supports the history and scholarship of information technology by encouraging, fostering, and facilitating archival and historical research. Formerly known as the Charles Babbage Foundation, ...
, University of Minnesota. Documents activities of Center for Y2K and Society (based in Washington, D.C.) working with non-profit institutions and foundations to respond to possible societal impacts of the Y2K computer problem: helping the poor and vulnerable as well as protecting human health and the environment. Records donated by executive director, Norman L. Dean.
International Y2K Cooperation Center Records, 1998–2000
Charles Babbage Institute The IT History Society (ITHS) is an organization that supports the history and scholarship of information technology by encouraging, fostering, and facilitating archival and historical research. Formerly known as the Charles Babbage Foundation, ...
, University of Minnesota. Collection contains the materials of the International Y2K Cooperation Center. Includes country reports, news clippings, country questionnaires, country telephone directories, background materials, audio visual materials and papers of Bruce W. McConnell, director of IY2KCC.
Preparing for an Apocalypse: Y2K
Charles Babbage Institute The IT History Society (ITHS) is an organization that supports the history and scholarship of information technology by encouraging, fostering, and facilitating archival and historical research. Formerly known as the Charles Babbage Foundation, ...
, University of Minnesota. A web exhibit curated by Stephanie H. Crowe
BBC: Y2K coverage

''In The Beginning there Was the Nerd''
– BBC Radio documentary about the history of computers and the millennium bug 10 years after using archival recordings.

– Radio documentary by American Public Media, on the history and legacy of the millennium bug five years on.


CBC Digital Archives – The Eve of the Millennium

How the UK coped with the millennium bug


CNN CNN (Cable News Network) is a multinational cable news channel headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. Founded in 1980 by American media proprietor Ted Turner and Reese Schonfeld as a 24-hour cable news channel, and presently owned by ...
{{DEFAULTSORT:Year 2000 problem Problem 2000 in Internet culture Calendars COBOL Doomsday scenarios Technology hazards Software bugs Year 02000 problem Turn of the third millennium