Y2K: The New Year's disaster that never happened

Another New Years goes by in the 21st Century and we're still using computers. If you believed all the hype from 90's, we'd be living in the Stone Age by now. Here's a set of videos that look back at the Y2K bug and raise new conspiracy theories.

Another New Year goes by in the twenty-first century, and we're still using computers. If you believed all the hype from the 90s, we'd be living in the Stone Age by now. Here's a set of videos that look back at the Y2K bug and raise new conspiracy theories.


Another New Year has come and gone. This is the last year of the first decade of the twenty-first century. It also means that we've had nine years of computing since the Y2K bug was supposed reduce all technology to a smoldering puddle and leave the entire planet living like the Amish.

I found a video that recaps some of the panic-in-the-street mentality that lead up to New Year's Day 2000. Although nothing came of it, there was legitimate fear — most of it based on ignorance, technological fear, and religious fervor. This video does a good job of showing what a lot of what people were thinking during the run up. Sadly subsequent parts also include a weak attempt to inject some conspiracy theory into history.

Let's go to the video

The featured video above is only one part of a five-part series. The sad part is none of the reports were made up. People actually believed that the world was coming to an end. Hundreds of stories were produced in the years leading up to January 1, 2000, talking about how suddenly everything that was computerized would come to a crashing halt.

There was widespread hype and panic, not the least of which was probably fomented by those people hoping to turn a buck off the problem. Legitimate as it was, a lot of money was made by hardware and software vendors alike to fix the problem. A lot of money was also made by the hype machine you see displayed here.

People traded off the natural fears some people have of technology. Mix that in with religious fear and fervor of those who were expecting the Second Coming 2,000 years after Christ's birth (even though Jesus was probably born in 2 BC), and there was just more hype to cash in on.

The subsequent parts contain the same doom-and-gloom scenarios that are shown in the first part. They show more of the panic that was to come, how nothing officially happened, and how you were really lied to about the whole affair. Oh, and in case you didn't know, Y2K caused 9/11 among other things.

Other parts to the series are:

Y2K Disasters 2 —This video discusses such things as trains derailing and crashing into each other, ominous executive orders from President Bill Clinton, bailouts from the Fed to cover broken computers, and literal Apocalyptic occurrences because of Y2K.

Y2K Disasters 3 — This section starts out by saying how the Y2K bug caused the rise of terrorism in the world. Most of the video, however, shows the millennium New Year's celebration and how nothing apparently happened, even though the world watched on CNN and other places.

Y2K Disasters 4 — Although the first three sections of the video were interesting from a nostalagia aspect, now the series starts falling to Black Helicopter Conspiracy Theory territory. It displays several purported headlines and then accompanies that with some appropriate film clips. This section starts picking up apparent failures, such as failures of ATMs. Oddly enough a pictured "failing" ATM is running Windows XP, which, as we all know, is post-Y2K. Other doom-and-gloom headlines are claimed, such as prisoners being released early and near nuclear war.

Y2K Disasters 5 — By now the American military is damaged by Y2K, according to the headlines in the video. Subs sink. Iraq fires biological missiles. American manufacturers shut down. Trains do collide. Planes crash. (One long scene shows a 747 in a death spiral, even though the clip had nothing to do with Y2K, but rather an occurrence that happened when a jetliner flew through some volcanic ash.) North and South Korea launch missiles at each other.

So, according to the video series, the Y2K bug did indeed have a major impact, but you weren't told. In the end, the video tries to tie 9/11, the Iraq war, and the recent economic downturn together with Y2K. I suppose the implication was that you weren't told the truth about Y2K, so you can't believe anything. But that's not a compelling conclusion.

You can see the whole series start to end by going to GlobalAwareness2525's YouTube channel, the maker of the film.

Classic Y2K links on TechRepublic

When TechRepublic launched in spring 1999, the Y2K hype machine was in full gear. At TechRepublic, we struggled with trying to figure out how to legitimately address the problem without appearing to pile on. We called out the hype for what it was and gave our traditional dose of tips, tricks, and career advice about how to best survive Y2K.

But even as grounded in IT and aware of the silliness surrounding the reporting, TechRepublic's own VP Bob Artner asked "Have I been wrong about Y2K?" worrying aloud that maybe there was something there after all.

Some of the Y2K coverage on TechRepublic included:

And when it was all said and done:

Where were you for Y2K?

Did you have to scramble to fix Y2K problems? And how did things turn out in the end? Share your Y2K stories in the Comment section below.

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