Thursday, December 17, 2009

Party Like it's 1999

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As we near the ten year anniversary of Y2K, it seems fitting that we should once again turn our attention to the disaster that very nearly felled the modern world.

Disaster? You may ask. I don't remember any disaster. In fact, if you're anything like me, you might remember being disappointed that the lights didn't explode come midnight on that fateful New Year's. But in fact, if it weren't for the concerted efforts of thousands of individuals worldwide, Y2K might have been a true apocalypse; planes falling from the sky and all. At least, according to some.

The issue, as you may recall, was thanks to the computer programmers of the 60's and their desire to save computer memory by not including a "19" before the year when inputting a date in a computer program. Of course, they never expected their programs to last more than a few years. But programs that eventually grew out of this system went on to include Microsoft Excel, Javascript, UNIX and C programming... Some of the most influential programs out there (or so I've been told).

To make a long story short, an estimated 300 billion dollars was spent in preparation for Y2K. Money that went towards creating the backup systems that kept the world afloat, both after the clock struck twelve in the year 2000, and some argue, in the aftermath of 9/11 following the prolonged blackout in lower Manhattan.

And while some still believe there was never a threat to begin with, I prefer to see it differently. I like to look at it as a challenge that humankind met head-on and defeated soundly, with rational thinking and preemptive action.

...It is possible for us to do that, right?

- Brit Trogen

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