A look back at Y2K, two decades later

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Y2K bug was known throughout the world. It scared countless people for numerous reasons.

According to National Geographic, many people believed computers would be unable to interpret the change of date from 1999 to 2000.

When complex computer programs were first written in the 1960s, engineers used a two-digit code for the year, leaving out the “19.”

National Geographic

If computers weren’t able to interpret the change of date, some people thought the hardware would malfunction and cause other technological devices to fail.

But it was more than just computers, according to Encyclopedia Britannica businesses and government teams checked systems and software before the end of 1999.

The Y2K problem was not limited to computers running conventional software, however. Many devices containing computer chips, ranging from elevators to temperature-control systems in commercial buildings to medical equipment, were believed to be at risk, which necessitated the checking of these “embedded systems” for sensitivity to calendar dates.

Encyclopedia Britannica

Companies spent millions to make sure all of their software was intact for the year 2000. But, the concern didn’t stop at computers or medical equipment. Others believed the new millennium would cause natural disasters.

On the other hand, some people believed the Y2K bug wasn’t going to bite.

What about predictions for tonight are we going to live through this Y2K thing?

“Piece of cake. Nothing to it. I think people will be disappointed.”

Y2K was 20 years ago today.

“Then, they’ll have to eat up all that food and sell their generator.”

And people, did in fact, sell their generators, but before KELOLAND lived through it, preparations and fear spread throughout the nation.

“What if this incident went into 48-72 hours?”
“If we’re out of electricity for 48 hours we’re going to be badly hurting.”

Heat, telephone service, food, if the whole state is without power, every city will fend for itself,” Kristi Piehl said.

From power outages to floods of 911 phone calls, some people were preparing for the worst.

“In this Red Cross Y2K brochure, they suggest taking money out of ATM’s well before New Year’s Eve,” Kristi Piehl said.

“The Red Cross is recommending that people prepare for five to seven days. Up to a week’s worth of time.”

“And the safest place to spend that time is in your own home. But remember, don’t make any New Year’s phone calls or log onto the computer, unless its an emergency. Don’t take money out of your bank account on New Year’s Eve. Do take small amounts of money out in early December. Do have a weeks worth of canned and ready to eat food on hand. And do have a seven day supply of bottled water. That’s a gallon per person per day. That’s in case we lose power for seven days,” Kristi Piehl said.

“Worst case scenario, we lose power, we go onto the generator.”

Whereas some were preparing to welcome the new millennium with open arms.

“This morning at eight o’ clock, 50 people came here and look at all the work they’ve done. They’ve turned the arena into the biggest party in KELOLAND. There will be eight different bands here,” Kristi Piehl said.

And the biggest party in KELOLAND celebrated the New Year without and glitches.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Happy New Year!

From all of us at KELOLAND News, have a happy New Year.

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