What happened January 1st, 2000

By: R.G.

Why didn’t the world shut down on January 1st, 2000?

Hey everyone! Welcome to another AURA club post, this one pertaining to how the entire world held their breath as the new century rolled around. For starters, Happy New Century, we made it! So, what was the issue that caused the US to spend millions of dollars? What we call the Y2K bug, was a computer bug, that might have caused serious damage after December 31st, 1999. Essentially, what had occurred was computer scientists throughout the 1960s – 1980s created a two-digit code that signified the year by leaving out the 19 of dates, 1980 was computed as 80. The rationale behind this choice stood on the premise of computer data storage was expensive and took up a lot of computer space and memory. As the years passed, programmers noticed that computers might interpret the 00 of Y2K as 1900, which would turn the computer’s clock back to 1900.

This bug was both a hardware and software problem, making the solution to the problem a tad more complicated. Companies in the field of technology raced to fix the bug and found the simplest solution was to change the two-digit number to a four-digit number. But why?

While this might not affect some of us directly, if this had happened, catastrophic repercussions would have set the world into chaos. Banks, for example, calculate interest rates on a daily basis, and on January 1st of the new century, the interest rates, rather than the rate of interest for one day, would have calculated the interest rate nearly 100 years prior.

Things such as transportation rely on times and dates, airlines in particular. Imagine all the airline computers that record flight schedules being sent back to 1900. More terrifyingly (we can live without travel…I guess?), things such as power plants and nuclear energy facilities rely on maintenance safety checks for things such as radiation levels and water pressure; these safety checks are done by computers. If the date was incorrect, calculations would have read inaccurate, endangering towns in the near vicinity.

But what happened? The clock struck midnight, the Times Square Drop happened, and the world continued to spin. Well, a nuclear energy facility in Japan saw some radiation equipment fail, but precautionary facilities kept this from harming the public. And that was about it. The USA believed that missiles launched from Russia were a reflection of the Y2K bug, but it was a pre-planned attack on the republic of Chechnya and unrelated to a computer glitch.

Certain countries such as Russia, South Korea, and Italy didn’t spend the effort to prepare for the bug and did not affect those countries any more than countries such as the US who poured millions of dollars into the project to stop this.

However, many people have believed that the millennial bug was a hoax or end-of-world cult type sh*t after the anti-climactic ending, leading to the world continuing to run.

Thanks, everyone for tuning in today! This is R.G. signing off for today. Have a great week and stay sane out there!

  • R.G.