Shorebreak2,365 posts since
Apr 6, 2010
Rep Points: 12,596
Apr 6, 2010
Rep Points: 12,596
Rosie, I wouldn't characterize the Y2K warnings as a scam, although IMO they were in some cases carried to an extreme.
I started my IT career in the mid 70's and saw plenty of code that would not have passed muster for the transition into 2000 and beyond. At the time, it wasn't fixed because:
- a) every software change, no matter how seemingly simple, needs to be rigorously tested to make sure that not only does it work but that it hasn't affected something else - and extra testing means extra effort (impacting resource requirements), extra time (impacting project schedules) and extra money (impacting project budgets),
- b) 30 years before the event, it wasn't a business priority: the thinking was "this software probably won't be around in the year 2000"
Thirty years later, as 2000 approached, nothing had changed: a) systems had to be tested just as rigorously to make sure operations weren't disrupted by the transition into 2000 and b) the old software was still being run, especially (but definitely not limited to) financial systems in many companies. These were old legacy systems written in the 60's and 70's which were still running and at the heart of the enterprise, whether the business was in manufacturing, transportation, or telecomm. The only difference was that now it was showtime, and it was a business priority across all enterprises.
- c) even if you did fix that particular piece of potentially questionable code, there was plenty of other code in other interfacing systems which also had to be identified, changed and tested.
It is also important to note that for many companies, Y2K readiness was an audit issue, to which companies had to respond, as well as a major interest for the Boards of Director. Disruption to business operations was not an option and yes the potential problem was taken seriously.
What I remember of New Year's Eve 1999 is participating, along with other members of the industry, in a twelve-hour-long open conference call with a government agency, while we each monitored and reported on operations in our companies and any problems which had been identified. Internally, in parallel, we worked as usual side by side with our business counterparts to monitor operations and we had programmers available around the clock to allow a rapid response to any issues which surfaced. We were proud that our teams did their jobs well and that our company encountered no problems in the transition and in the days after. The cost in terms of effort and money was huge, but I can tell you that it absolutely needed to be done.
Was it a scam? No - it was real. It was a non-event and that was exactly what we had planned for and worked so hard to achieve.
The warnings to stockpile food, water, have some money on hand, etc should have been simply common sense precautions in case of disruptions much like the precautions you might take when blizzards and other disasters are expected. Guns, ammo, and underground bunkers? Not so much - but when people don't know what to expect, they come up with scary scenarios.