Y2kCivilization’s dependence upon computers has grown exponentially in the last thirty years. Businesses use computers to keep their records, write reports, and to converse with colleagues and clients. The average businessperson depends primarily on their computer to complete a day’s work. Years ago, programmers caused what could have potentially been a major problem with modern computer systems. While attempting to conserve scarce and expensive data bits, they programmed the year using two digits instead of four. At the turn of the century, computer systems would not be able to discriminate between the year 1900 and the year 2000. As the speculation of what would happen at the turn of the millennium grew, those who depended on computers became frightened at the thought of what their world might become. In order to prevent any major problems from occurring, measures were to taken to repair this bug. Now that the beginning of the new century has passed, it is safe to say that the precautions taken by businesses and the government were not done so in vain. Now the century has turned, our computers are safe and precautions no longer need be taken.
On and after January 1, there were several Y2K related problems with computers around the world, but these problems were minor and solvable. For instance, an eyeglass lens manufacturer’s plant had troubles with bringing up purchase orders when customers had questions, because the purchase orders were sorted by date. In addition, the same manufacturer’s plant had computers controlling the manufacturing process. Since problems affected the computers in their sales and administration office, they felt it necessary to have employees hand-check the quality and accuracy of each lens before it left the building (Zandonella, par. 4). These problems led to slight setbacks in business, but they were able to recover in time to maintain their reputation.
In several cases, the Y2K glitch affected the software involved in processing purchases made with credit cards. There were some reports of people unintentionally being billed for the same meal up to twelve times. The consumers involved experienced depleted accounts, bounced checks, and hours spent straightening out balances with banks and credit card companies (Y2K, par. 1). If precautions had not been taken by most of the credit card companies, many more cases similar to these could have occurred causing a great disaster in the credit industry. People might have lost faith in credit card companies, which make up large portions of the economy.
In Kansas City, KS, a few court cases were delayed, including a civil suit regarding a wrongful death, due to year 2000 related computer failure. In one case, two citizens were not served subpoenas until almost two months after they were issued (Overman, par. 2). Ellen Crawford, public information officer for the Jackson County Circuit Court, commented, ?There were a lot of problems and one of them was issuing summons? (Overman, par. 8).
The programmers blamed for writing all this ?buggy? software incidentally caused the bug with good intentions. Now that the materials they were originally attempting to conserve are relatively inexpensive, programmers would only be lazy to utilize a two-digit year instead of four. The only possibility of another scare mimicking this one is in 8,000 years, when the year turns to 10000. At the rate technology in software engineering has been moving in the last thirty years, it is very unlikely that the same software will be used in 8,000 years.
Some people believed that the Y2K precautions were taken in vain, and that far too much money was spent on the problem. Many compared the United States to smaller countries, citing that the amount these other countries spent to fix these problems was slim to none. Despite a few exceptions, these countries had no major problems along with the United States. For example, International Data Corp. accused the United States government of overspending by $41 billion. Meanwhile, the Chair of the President’s Council on the Year 2000 Conversion agrees that there was overspending, but that it was more in the range of $10 billion (Berkowitz, par. 2). According to Ben Berkowitz of the University of Southern California, the CIO of the 3Com corporation believes that spending was ?out of proportion by orders of magnitude? (par. 4). Even though these people believe there was massive overspending, no one can knowingly say whether or not this money was well spent. If these so called excess amounts of money had not been spent, there might have been more major problems.
Jonathan Weber of CNN agrees that there probably would have been problems if businesses and the government had not spent as much money on this issue as they did, but he contests that ?computers have all kinds of problems all the time.? He believes that businesses’ existing staffs were large enough to keep their computer systems running through the turn of the century (par. 1).
Although there are many who believe the precautions taken by those amongst us were taken in vain, their beliefs are unfounded. There is no raw evidence that nothing would have happened if we had not taken the measures we did. Occurrences of minor problems related to the Y2K bug throughout the world, however, show that if the correct steps had not been taken, it is very possible that the world would have experienced a great catastrophe. Now that it is over we can let out a sigh of relief and feel reassured that preparing for the year 2000 was the logical thing to do.
Berkowitz, Ben. Post-Mortem: The Bug Appears to Be Beaten. 6 Jan. 2000. Y2K Media Watch. 8 Nov. 2000. .
Overman, Amanda. Glitch Holds Up Civil Suit. 8 Feb. 2000. The Missourian. 6 Nov. 2000. .
Weber, Jonathan. Y2K Hype Shows Our Fear of Out-Of-Control-World. 24 Dec.1999. CNN. 8 Nov. 2000. .
Y2K Problem Led Local Businesses to Overbill More than $100,000. 2 Feb. 2000. 6 Nov. 2000. .
Zandonella, Catherine. Santa Cruz Firm Sees Success in Prescription Eyewear Industry. 20 Feb. 2000. Santa Cruz Sentinel. 6 Nov. 2000. .