General Question

dalepetrie's avatar

OK, admit it...did anyone one here get caught up in the Y2K hysteria?

Asked by dalepetrie (18007points) September 20th, 2008

For those of you not old enough to remember, back in the early to mid 90s, corporate America spent countless man hours hiring people to fix their computer systems so they would be ready for the year 2000. The problem being that computers were by and large set with 2 digit year fields, the computer assuming it was 19xx, so when the year changed to 2000, most of the computers in use had to be changed so that they would know that the year 00 was 2000 and not 1900. And that was one part of it, but to the masses it was something more sinister.

A fair number of otherwise reasonable people were convinced that there were some computers which controlled everything from global communications, to nuclear weapons, to the power grid, to our water treatment facilities…you name it, that had components which somehow were under the ocean or something and we weren’t going to be able to get to them, so when the calendar rolled over, the entire world was going to go dark, nuclear missiles were going to launch, it would essentially be armageddon. People were buying up gas masks, bottled water, canned goods around December of ‘99, they were digging up old bomb shelters that had been built in the 50s and never used, they were positively losing their minds.

Now the vast majority seemed to be like me, who thought (rightly) the whole thing was paranoid nonsense, and who didn’t stock up on toilet paper and cat food, but clearly the grocery shelves were running out of a LOT of things in December of 1999, so I know it wasn’t just a small handful of people who bought into it. So fess up…were you one of the doomsday prophets?

If so, tell me about your experience. Tell me what convinced you that this was possibly something to be worried about…and how far did your paranoia go? Were you warning everyone, or were you maybe quietly stockpiling bottled water just in case, since hey…you’d drink it anyway, it would just take longer to do so? I’m not going to make fun of you, I’d just like to hear some peoples’ stories.

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16 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

My boyfriend at the time was in the National Guard. He was called to the base to be ready in case something happened; it really ruined my New Year’s Eve. I stayed at home with our cat. Since I live in CA, it was apparent by 9pm or so that nothing was going to happen in America. I didn’t prepare, or panic, or buy water a duct tape. Alarmists.

fireside's avatar

That was senior year in college, I hardly knew the world existed.

Nobody I knew was stocking up. I had a computer at the time, but I don’t remember having to do anything to fix it.

But I did get pulled over after a New Year’s eve party, so maybe there was a jinx on the day…

SpatzieLover's avatar

No, but then again my spouse is a Geek.

Oh yeah, I was really afraid my clocks might not work or my computer would say 1900!

Pishawww!

asmonet's avatar

Nah, I don’t even believe in Bigfoot, and that seems entirely more likely than the ‘pocalypse.

One of the people in the subdivison near mine at the time, put a tarp over their house, basically bought 5 yrs worth of canned food and I think 500+ gallons of water.

People stopped talking to him.

Tantigirl's avatar

I worked in a medical office, and we had one patient who was supposed to be about half way from Australia to LA that night, and he actually changed his flight because he’d heard that planes might drop out of the sky because of Y2K.

augustlan's avatar

I didn’t believe it would actually be a problem, but I thought there might be a panic or maybe rioting by crazy folks. Since I had very young children at the time, I did buy a little extra water (5 gallons), just in case things went downhill & it wasn’t safe to go out for a day or two. I was just thinking about the Y2K thing the other day, in relation to the whole “end of the world in 2012” theory. Human beings can be quite gullible, eh?

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Umm…no. Although for a fleeting moment…..

SuperMouse's avatar

I seem to remember giving it some thought, but I didn’t freak out. I was in So Cal so I figured our earthquake kit could hold us at least for awhile if something were to go wrong.

I was six months pregnant at the time, during the entire pregnancy we called that baby J2K (the “j” stands for junior and he is our second baby, hence the 2 part). I tell people that now and very few have any idea what I am referring to – even those who lived through it.

sacaver's avatar

I really think it was only here in the U.S. that people when nuts. Some friends of mine went caving down in Mexico over that period of time, and the locals apparently couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. And these were the locals within the larger cities who did have computers and what not. As for the folks living out in the more remote areas, they didn’t even have a clue.

I suppose it just depended on how “plugged in” your society was back then.

How nuts will the crazies go come 2012?

Carol's avatar

My daughter and II took a trip to the middle east so we could be in Bethlehem at the stroke of midnight, so I suppose we took advantage of the hysteria. Americans had canceled their hotel reservations and the planes had more than enough seats. In Jerusalem, we were informed that every other person who would be in Bethlehem at that time would be an Israeli policeperson. I doubt that it was because of Y2K.

marinelife's avatar

The fear mongering did not make sense to me at the time. It seemed unlikely that a total societal meltdown would ensue. I did not hoard food or cash.

I harbored a little anxiety, because at the time we owned a small store on an island where a fair number of yahoos lived—with guns. The average emergency response time for anything was 25 minutes. Even the small anxiety was wasted.

Great New Year’s Eve party though.

webmasterwilliam's avatar

I was one of the programmers working on the Y2K issue for several years prior to the new millennia. I have 30 years experience as a mainframe programmer working on major systems.

I have found in my career that the popular statement “90% of programs are written by 10%” of the programmers is very true. The industry is loaded with incompetence. After working on the problem with so many “newbies” and “offshore” talent that industry was throwing at the problem, I was certain we were going to have a meltdown. I loaded my guns, filled my bathtub, and rode it out. I was very happily surprised that my worries were incorrect. I still don’t know how we made it.

For several years after that night, we continued to have major programming problems arise but were commanded from the top that we weren’t allowed to call them “Y2K issues” but had to call them “data format issues” for legal reasons.

cwilbur's avatar

I made sure that I was in a place that, if the world ended, I was surrounded by people I could trust with my life.

But then, I do that every New Year’s Eve; this one wasn’t any different.

Jeruba's avatar

Caught up in? Not exactly. But cautious, yes. I was in the midst of changing jobs in high-tech, and I delayed starting my new one until after the first. If things went to hell, I wanted to be in a familiar place, and on the ground floor, and with doors that didn’t lock electronically.

And I did stock up on emergency supplies, and I did make sure I was ahead in my prescriptions by 3 weeks. I had cash in the house and plenty of water. And I worried twice as much as usual about my son who went out partying that night.

By the way, I was a programmer in 1975, and I put two extra characters in front of all the date fields in all the code I wrote. I also decided back then that I was going to be out of software well before 2000.

adreamofautumn's avatar

Nope. Though I definitely was hoping something would happen, at least it would have been interesting!

Nullo's avatar

We filled the bathtub with water, bought an extra bag of peanuts (we’d been eating a lot of peanuts anyway, since it was pickin’ cold in that house – what wise guy puts radiators under a single-paned window?), and bought another four liters of milk.
Then we went to church for the New Year’s Eve party.

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