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Nana Akua Sarkodie-Mensah , Catherine Melendez. What t hey thought would happen.

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what t hey thought would happen
What they thought would happen...

In 1999, people around the world believed that on January 1, 2000 our lives would be changed forever. They alleged that computers would fail, electricity would turn off, and running water, heat, and all of the luxuries we use every daywould be no more.


In 1999, computer memory space was very expensive. Early core memory cost one dollar per bit. We saved space using two digits for the date instead of four. (instead of 1999, we used 99). The fear was, that in 2000, computers would be unable to recognize the difference between 2000 and 1900. As a result of this, people assumed every computer in the world would crash


What they thought would happen…

Security experts feared cyber terrorists were plotting to attack computer systems around the world.

Government agencies took extreme precautions such as shutting down databases and government related websites.

alan greenspan
Alan Greenspan

Invented Financial Computer


Economic Modeling Programs

Partially blamed himself for Y2K


“I'm one of the culprits who created this problem. I used to write those programs back in the 1960s and 1970s, and was proud of the fact that I was able to squeeze a few elements of space out of my program by not having to put a 19 before the year. Back then, it was very important. We used to spend a lot of time running through various mathematical exercises before we started to write our programs so that they could be very clearly delimited with respect to space and the use of capacity. It never entered our minds that those programs would have lasted for more than a few years. As a consequence, they are very poorly documented. If I were to go back and look at some of the programs I wrote 30 years ago, I would have one terribly difficult time working my way through step-by-step.” —Alan Greenspan, 1998


What they thought would happen…

While some people were genuinely scared, others made jokes about y2k. Here is a Nike commercial which aired in 1999.

personal experience
Personal Experience
  • Family felt panic
  • People had “bunker” with caned food and water supply.
  • No celebration on New Years.
  • Family believed that the high way would be affected.
  • Y2K believed to be more like a terrorist attack.
who would be affected
Who Would Be Affected

All major industries




Telecom ( phones, radios, etc.)


how it works
How it Works

COBOL: Programing language developed in 1959 that’s still used today that deals with date math. Dates in COBOL usually stored in three different locations , a month, a day, and a year.

Became the number one choice as a business language programing during the 60’s 70’s and 80’s.

EXAMPLE: When using a credit card with expiration date of 2000 and it’s 1999 your card will get rejected. The system will read that 99 (today) is greater than 2000 therefore making your credit card of 2000 expired.

IT companies all over the world spent billions on trying to locate and fix the bug.

On final day companies were running on backup computers.

w hat really happened
What Really Happened

No major problems were reported

Many switched from a 4 digit

As a result of all the precautions taken to prepare the world for the y2k bug, computer systems were actually improved.

The time and money it took to prevent the bug actually went to good use because they invested in new technologies in order to prevent system failures.

Y2K opened the doors to offshoring jobs.

Overseas they found programmers not only for cheaper but better than America had to offer in order to fix Y2K bug.