Who Remembers Y2K?
Watch Computer Experts Discuss the Y2K Problem in 1999
BY Chris Higgins December 31, 2016
In the late 1990s, computer nerds (myself included) were up in arms about the Y2K problem. In brief, the issue was that many computer systems used six-digit dates (two digits each for day, month, and year), which meant that when the year 2000 hit, the system might read it as 1900. That could be a big problem.
Much money, time, and computer programming was necessary to fix the Y2K Problem, and for the most part, we survived just fine. But anyone using a computer in 1999 (especially for business) was pretty concerned about keeping things clean. In this 1999 episode of Computer Chronicles, host Stewart Cheifet goes deep on the Y2K bug. Exhibit A is Cheifet’s own credit card from Shell, which expires in the year “1000.” Oops.
In this episode, Cheifet and friends dig into a bunch of actual applications that are not Y2K-safe. Perhaps the biggest problem was with spreadsheets, which often included lots of dates and date math. In this episode, a Symantec rep comes along with a tool that reviews all your Windows apps for problems. A Microsoft rep shows some Wizards (oh, the 90s) to help with Excel problems.
Have a look, and think back to a time when we were thoroughly ready to flip out on New Year’s Eve:
There’s one other notable part of this episode—the demo of Audible (now Audible.com), around the 26-minute mark. At the time, Audible was a combination web service and hardware player (basically a proto-MP3 player with poor fidelity). The player cost $200, or $99 if you committed to buying a handful of books on
tape, er, digital. Amazon eventually bought Audible in 2008.