I was thinking the other day about how back in the 90s, there was a catchphrase that people said it. Wasn’t a very clever catchphrase, but you seem to hear it all the time and that catchphrase was come on it’s.
The nineties, my it’s. The 90s come on Uncle Phil, it is the 90s man it’s, the 90s, it’s. Hammer time it was usually used to justify doing something that was, you know, out of bounds or trying to get somebody else to do something that they normally wouldn’t.
Do let’s, go to a club come on it’s, the 90s just get in the hot tub naked come on it’s. The 90s just sniff. This chloroform come on it’s, the 90s. It was the only time in my life when simply stating the decade that you’re living in was a valid justification for dumb behavior, but the 90s were kind of an amazing time.
You know we had great music awesome TV shows and oh yeah, abject terror. You know we weren’t just closing out a decade or even a century. We were closing out an entire millennium and everybody was thinking about the future.
Computers were now in everybody’s homes, the internet was officially a thing and movies like The Matrix kind of reflected our anxiety about where everything was going. I mean one of the most popular songs in the 90s was actually a song called it’s, the end of the world as we know it.
So maybe we were just primed to find an apocalyptic scenario to panic about, and we found one an apocalypse that never actually happened. Humans are a weird, weird, weird species. We seem to be constantly looking for new crises to be terrified about and when we find them.
Sometimes we dig down and we find solutions to them and then other times we just stick our head in the sand and hope for the best and then sometimes we do prevent these crises from happening and then laugh at ourselves for ever worrying about them.
In the first place, just for getting completely the Herculean efforts that we went through to keep it from happening, I feel so stupid. I spend all that money fixing a gas leak in my house, never blew up what a waste younger viewers might not remember this, but 20 years ago we encountered a terrifying, apocalyptic scenario of biblical proportions.
I mean that’s, how we acted about it anyway. These days, y2k is seen almost in the same context as near-death experiences or the dancing plague it, which is like a form of mass hysteria that we all suffered from.
But today I want to talk about how y2k was actually a crisis. It was something that could have caused some massive problems and only didn’t cause problems because there were some people that saw it coming and worked really hard to keep it from happening.
So what was y2k exactly for those who don & # 39? T remember or weren’t old enough to be there for it. It was basically a series of computer bugs that threatened to shut down computer systems around the world, everything from individual computers, but also networks at you know nuclear facilities and financial institutions institutions.
What’s? Good? Let’s, go with it think that line got hit with y2k anyway. It goes like this. In the early days of computing storage was a valuable commodity. I mean we & # 39. Ve all seen this picture right here of a five megabyte storage unit that required piano movers to move into the facility.
Programmers had serious constraints to deal with and every single character of code was precious so to save space. They used two digits instead of four to represent years in the code, so it would use 53 instead of 1953 and yeah.
I know that today that sounds trivial, but again five megabytes and then, when records started to become digitized a lot of people, didn’t bother to go in and you know recode those those dates they left them as the two-digit dates.
For example, the Department of fence didn’t ever go back and redo. Those dates in their systems made sense at the time, but, as it turns out time, moves forward, and eventually we were gon na get to the year 2000 and when that happened with the computers know that the time odometer had flipped over to 2000 or would it Think that it was the year 1900, so in the 1980s and early 90s industry experts started to see this potential problem coming forward and it was gon na be a bigger problem sooner than they thought like imagine a year but say 1996 and you have a credit Card that has an expiration date in oh one, and you go to use that credit card in a supermarket and the supermarket computer thinks that it’s, trying to say 1901 meaning your credit card has been expired for 90, something years a small problem.
If fixing the problem was a challenge, because oftentimes corporations just kind of patch old systems instead of creating all new ones – and this is kind of a dirty secret of the IT industry. Have you ever wondered why so many corporations get hit by hackers? It’s because they’re, usually running old legacy systems that have never.
I’m graded or running with outdated features. Like you know, security speaking of security, not not a joke. Just a few years ago I was working at a newspaper and I remember the security system was being run on an Apple 2e.
I’m, not kidding. You know when you’re dealing with a huge company with thousands of moving parts. The whole, if it ain’t broke don’t fix. It mantra can be taken to extremes so yeah in the 1990s, when the y2k thing started become.
You know well known and talked about. Many of these corporations were running on 10. 20 30 year-old computer software programs, and because they were running as such old software programs, a lot of these companies had trouble finding people that could go in and work on them, because you know everybody else had kind of moved on.
Some people actually came out of retirement to go and fix computers for corporations to prevent the y2k bug and the more trouble companies had fixing this the more headlines they seemed to make and they got louder and more bombastic over time.
Next thing you know, people are talking about y2k being the end of the world and survivalists got triggered because, of course they did gun sales went up. I mean the whole thing for a while there, you couldn’t even walk through a Barnes & amp, Noble without being inundated by y2k survival guides.
There were TV shows about it, VHS tapes, that you could rent, one of them actually started Spock and I’m, pretty sure I just said the most anachronistic sentence ever and then January 1st came and went and nothing happened and a lot of people Started to wonder if it was all just a big hoax satirist, Dave berry wrote the y2k received more media hype than global warming and Britney Spears combined late-night comedians had a field day with it.
Oh, the y2k bug everything where the computers going to stop so from right here right now, it’s, easy to look back at the 90s and the y2k panic and you know, make fun of it make light of it. But we’re, looking at it with our eyes.
We now know that nothing happened. It’s, kind of like looking back on the Empire, Strikes Back and trying to watch it as if you didn’t know anything about Darth, Vader being Luke’s, dad spoilers, but none of this was true back in The 1950s, when IBM’s.
Robert Bremer first pointed this out. He was unusually farsighted in his approach. He actually figured out a way to do four-digit years in COBOL back in the 1950s, and they tried to petition the Department of Defense to get caught up on it themselves.
Of course, before they didn’t do that others were ahead of the curve as well. A husband-and-wife writing team. The Murray’s published a book about the coming crisis. In 1984, after mrs. Murray encountered a y2k bug in the financial program.
A programmer from South Africa, named Chris Anderson, sent an open letter to IBM in the form of a half page magazine ad, published in 1986. His tagline read the time bomb in your IBM mainframe system.
In 1993, Canadian Peter de jager became one of the loudest y2k voices when he wrote a 3-page article, doomsday 2004 computer world. The Jaeger has been labeled an alarmist for his insistent warnings that he gave, but actually in reality he kind of underestimated the problem.
He predicted that fixing y2k would cost somewhere between 50 and 70 billion dollars. The actual amount spent according to estimates, was between 280 and 600 billion dollars. It was such a huge investment.
You would think that everybody would be happy that nothing went wrong and now there were a few glitches on January 1st, but nobody died, so nobody cared. Obviously this is a good thing, but Diego and many of his contemporaries were labeled as alarmist Kooks.
In fact, he actually said in a Time interview quote, I find myself in the peculiar position, sometimes of practically wishing that we had failed in order to prove that we were correct. Y2K was a non disaster, but only because companies and governments and individuals put in a lot of effort to keep it from happening and they got zero credit for it.
As technology forecaster, Paul Sappho was quoted as saying it’s better, to be an anonymous success than a public failure. So look: would the world have completely ended? If we hadn & # 39, t done anything about y2k, probably not what some energy grids have gone down with the financial markets have taken a huge hit.
The fact is, we have the luxury of not knowing we saw a crisis coming and we acted on it and we prevented it, and now we can look back and giggle at the people who took it so seriously only because those people took it so seriously.
Personally, I would rather be thought of as a fool who acted to prevent a crisis from happening that never actually happened rather than somebody who just sticks my head in the sand and hopes for the best.
But then I & # 39. Ve never had a lot of pride, so let me put it to you: were you around during the y2k scare? Do you have any memories of how people were panicking over it, or were you one of those many faceless people that did the job of keeping this from happening? I would love to hear your stories in the comments down below come on.
Don’t. Be shy. It’s. The 90s thanks for watching, please like and share this. If you liked it, and if this is your first time here, maybe check out this article, cuz Google thinks you’ll, like that one.
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