The Y2K crisis that never happened: Part 4
Continued from Part 3 of this topic
Events in the months leading up to Y2K: 3
As the year 2000 approached, news was relatively comforting:
||Overall: Senator Robert F. Bennett, (R-UT) headed a Senate committee examining the issue. He
that disruptions would be minor: "I'm very optimistic that this is not the
end of Western civilization as we know it."
||Telephones: AT&T had fixed and tested all of its phone and data systems. They expected that any
unexpected glitches will materialize in billing and network-management problems, not in
actual transmission difficulties.
||Airplanes: Boeing found only three Y2K bugs in its planes' software.
||Medicare: Medicare renovated, tested and validated its 25 most critical computer systems.
||Overall: John A. Koskinen, chief Y2K advisor to President Clinton
likened the effect of the bugs
to a powerful winter storm: producing minor problems for some and severe but short-term disruptions
for others. "We still don't know how many storms there will be, but the risk is
localized storms, not national debacles." He predicted that 85 to 90% of U.S.
Federal government conversion work will be completed by the deadline of 1999-MAR-31.
In retrospect, his predictions appear to have been unduly
||Banks: The Federal Reserve had given U.S. banks a 1999-OCT deadline to have removed any Y2K
bugs, and to have verified that their programs will survive the year end.
||Money: An extra 50 to 75 billion worth of bank notes of all denominations
available late in 1999 to handle an expected large drain on bank accounts.
||Industry: Chase Manhattan Corp. expected to pay $363 million to fix their Y2K bugs. E.I. DuPont de
Nemours expected to spend $400 million. The worldwide cost was expected to be between $300
and $600 billion dollars. Litigation and insurance costs are expected to boost this to
over $1 trillion dollars. Relatively few disruptions were experienced at the
end of 1999. The trillion dollar estimate is probably excessive.
||Government: As of mid 1999-JAN, two states planned to mobilize the National Guard for
2000-JAN-1. However, they did not call it a mobilization, because that might alarm folks.
They are calling it a training exercise.
||Russia turned down help offered by the U.S. and NATO to revamp its nuclear missile
and early-warning defense systems to remove any Y2K bugs. They were suspicious that this
offer was a cover operation to spy on Russian facilities.
||China has found the ultimate technique to assure that its airlines will be free of any
Y2K problems. They ordered its airline chiefs to be airborne on New Years Day, 2000.
||Canada's armed forces are organizing Operation Abacus which
20,000 troops available for up to 30 days service in 2000-JAN. The name of the program
well chosen: an abacus is a calculating machine that is totally mechanical in operation,
and will thus be useable even if the electricity fails.
||Airlines: The International Air Transportation Association (IATA)
predicted that the world's
airlines will spend about $2.3 billion (U.S. funds) to wipe out the bug.
||Electricity: There had been a number of tests of the electrical
grid during 1999:
||The electrical utility serving the Canadian province of Nova Scotia set the computer
clocks ahead into 2000 as a trial, without incident.
||The electrical utility, Ontario Hydro, conducted a test on 1999-MAR-7 at
midnight. It involved the electrical service of 500,000 people in western Toronto, ON.
They set the clock on various systems ahead to the year 2000 to confirm that all of the
millennium bugs were eradicated. Streetcars and subway trains stopped at the nearest
convenient station at 11:55 PM as a precaution in case the power failed. Otherwise,
stalled streetcars could block intersections, and people using the subway could be trapped
in tunnels. Bars scheduled extra bouncers in case of disturbances that might be caused by
a power failure. O.H. spokesperson, Al Manchee, said: "The test was a complete
success. All the equipment performed as we expected." There wasn't even a
||There was a massive test of the communications systems of North American electrical
utilities on 1999-APR-9. All of the more than 3,000 electric utilities in the U.S. and
Canada participated. They pretended that their inter-utility communication systems had
broken down and had to be replaced by a manual backup. They reported that their
communications contingency plans had no serious problems. Most worked well; some areas
which can be improved have been highlighted. A second test was made on 1999-SEP-9.
||Airplanes: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration tested the air traffic control
facilities in Denver, CO on 1999-APR-11. No problems were noted.
||Governments: The start of the fiscal year in Japan, Canada and New York State passed on 1999-APR-1
without incident. APR-6 marked the start of Britain's fiscal year. Again, the date passed
||Airplanes: The U.S. Transportation Department lacked sufficient data to predict
whether 17 international destinations will be Y2K ready. They stated: "Prudence...dictates
that travelers electing to fly in the civil aviation system of [these
destinations] during the period immediately before and after the New Year
should plan their itinerary carefully." They maintained a web site to
help keep travelers informed. 7
When New Year 2000 finally arrived, few systems failures were observed.
A new series of terms has been created to cover the Y2k problem:
||Clean management: Making certain that replacement software and hardware
for Y2K compliant computers are themselves compliant.
||Embedded systems: Electronic circuitry within electrical and electronic
equipment that contains microprocessors. These are small computing devices with limited
functionality. They are not programmable by the end user and are often not even known
about. But they have some of the functionality of regular computers and could have failed due to a
||Millennium bug: An inability of computer software or hardware to handle
the transition from the year 1999 to 2000.
||Mission-critical systems: Computer systems whose failure would greatly
impact an organization's ability to function. Process control systems are perhaps the best
example of this; they control manufacturing systems on a minute-by-minute basis. Their
failure could shut down a plant, electrical generator, communication system, etc.
||Rip-and-replace: Rather that repairing the hardware and software of a
computer system to make it Y2k compliant, the hardware and/or software is discarded and
replaced with more modern equivalents -- a good reason to update systems.
||Y2K: an abbreviation of the year 2000. One wag
noticed that this sort of abbreviation is the type of shorthand that
got us into the original mess.
||Y2K compliant: The status of a computer system that is either
unaffected by the millennium bug or has been fixed so that it can handle the transition
from the year 1999 to 2000 without failing.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today. In fact, many date from the infancy of the Internet and have probably disappeared long ago.
- Shaunti Feldhahn, "Y2K: The Millennium Bug -- A Balanced Christian
Response" Multinornah Publ., (1998) Read a
review or buy this book
- "Y2K authors still advising Christians to prepare,"
Baptist Press. Online at Maranatha Christian Journal, at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/news3408.htm
- "Midnight of the 'real' millennium approaches: Less hoopla, panic
-- but 'end times' cultural angst still in vogue," AANEWS,
- Patricia Wilson, "FBI Director Freeh Warns of Millennium Violence,"
Excite News/Reuters, 1999-FEB-4.
- June Bearzi, "Millennium computer fear is a scam,"
The Star, 1997-AUG-4, at: http://www2.inc.co.za/Archives/Jan97toAug97/
- R. Chandrasekaran and S. Barr, "Major U.S. firms, agencies
seem to have Y2K bug well in hand," Detroit News, at: http://detnews.com/1999/technology/9901/02/01020106.htm
- "International Civil Aviation Y2K Information Review,"
U.S. Department of Transportation, at: http://www.y2ktransport.dot.gov/fly2k
- "Gary North's Y2K links and
forums: The Year 2000 problem: The year the earth stands still." This was
at: http://www.garynorth.com. The URL
has since been taken over by an unrelated site. However, mirror copies of the
original essay are available at: http://www.dishangel.com/y2k/ and http://www.swikull.com/north/
Copyright © 1998 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2011-AUG-14
Author: B.A. Robinson