Y2K: What Really Happened
Theories abound. Was Y2K a bust? A bunch of malarkey? For years we endured the hype and horror. Were the gurus just plain wrong? Did we waste a couple trillion on testing and remediation, or did the effort save us from the brink of Y2Katastrophe?
I'd give you my opinion, but I was the guy who cashed-out of the Dow at 6300 to stock-up on gold and peanut butter. But there are some prevailing theories out there, and we at MIDRANGE Systems are prepared to offer some of the most compelling, to let you decide.
It was no big deal. Sure, there were a gazillion YY's out there. And perhaps a few billion embedded chips which thought it was 1900, or 1/4/80, or maybe a week from last Tuesday. But they didn't kill anybody. They didn't disrupt power, water, planes, trains or automobiles. Though I know for a fact there were some aviation problems, especially on January 2nd between Atlanta and Toledo and they didn't have the Kosher meal the guy next to me ordered in 29C. Coincidence? I don't think so.
It was a big deal. Y2K was poised to destroy us all. Chips, airports, nuclear plants; the whole enchilada was a ticking time bomb. But through incredible planning, solid technical management and amazingly efficient project offices, we found all the bugs, saved the world and boldly averted disaster. Possible, but my money's still on Theory 1, especially since it took my IT department 14 months just to roll-out a Web site that gets less hits than my kid's 0 and 8 little league team.
Y2K was not a bug at all, but rather a thousand little termites. They won't show up right away, but instead run around the infrastructure wreaking havoc while nobody knows it. Suddenly, weeks later, month-end is totally out of balance. General Ledger is so screwed-up that every accountant needs to go home and lie down. Planes are not falling from the sky, but the financial world is being held together by a thread... or at least I hope so, since I kind of remember running my Amex up $1,280.55 on New Year's Eve and don't have a clue how I'm going to pay for it.
Okay, January 1 was no big deal. But Leap Day, that's another story. Just when we've declared victory over Y2K, February 29th comes along and the poop hits the fan. Or maybe it will be February 30th, which actually shows up on one or our accounting calendars and no one can figure out why.
Finally, the conspiracy theory. Y2K was a catastrophe. It ravaged the economy. Several developed nations no longer exist. Delaware has been destroyed, but they're keeping it quiet. In smoke-filled rooms they've collaborated to cover up the whole thing through such trusted sources as CNN, Rush Limbaugh, The New York Times, and the Professor from Gilligan's Island. But I have it on good authority that the world is actually a mess--just last week I heard Madagascar fell right into the Indian Ocean. Or maybe it was the Pacific Ocean. Or wherever it is! I got a D in geography and couldn't find Madagascar with two hands and an atlas.
Mike Cohn lives in Atlanta, where his wife is making him eat 240 hoarded cans of chunk light tuna in vegetable oil, all by himself.