Dec 31, 2009

Best Buy-2k

Y2K Warning Sticker
Best Buy (1999)
Ten years ago, much of the world had fallen into a mild mass hysteria over the fear of the Y2K Bug.  The panic was born out of the idea that many computers only used the last two digits of the year in their coding.  This meant that when the clock rolling over from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000, the computer would misunderstand the two digit "00" year as 1900 and crash the system.

This story made the media rounds throughout 1999 with "experts" predicting all manner of things, from airplanes dropping out of the sky to a power grid shutdown that would cause citywide blackouts at the stroke of midnight in the dawn of the new millennium.  Stores like Best Buy advised their customers to turn off, and in some cases even unplug their electronic devices on New Year's Eve before midnight.

I thought it was all a lot of nonsense at the time.  The vast majority of computers had switched to a four digit year long ago, and I couldn't imagine it would take a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs to write a code to patch whatever machines or programs that were still in use that operated with a two digit year.  Still, my grandparents fell for the panic and insisted that I remember to turn off the computer, just in case.

I worked third shift at Turkey Hill on Rt. 93 and Airport Road in Hazleton at the time, so my shift that night started at 11 pm on December 31st and ended at 7 am in the new millennium.  After my shift, I came home and turned on the computer.  Sure enough, everything worked normally.  From my understanding, the biggest impact the Y2K Bug had in the United States was a brief shutdown of about 150 slot machines at a race track in Delaware.