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Technology and society

Magda Skrzypek
Media development worker

Prague-based media development worker from Poland with a journalistic background. Previously worked on digital issues in Brussels. Piqs about digital issues, digital rights, data protection, new trends in journalism and anything else that grabs my attention.

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piqer: Magda Skrzypek
Thursday, 31 January 2019

Remembering Y2K, The Disaster That Never Happened

When we flipped our calendars to the year 2000 nineteen years ago, we headed into the great unknown with bated breaths. All because of the Y2K, a glitch related to the use of two-digit years in computer systems, also known as the Millennium bug.

In the lead-up to 2000, some technophiles, like software developer David Eddy, were sounding the alarm about oncoming havoc. They presented us with an assortment of doomsday scenarios – computer failures could cause planes to fall from the sky or lead to nuclear power plants meltdown. At the same time others, like computer-systems analyst David Loblaw, believed Y2K was barely a problem at all. Instead, they saw a money-making hoax designed to make everyone hire programmers and buy new computers.

"Dave Eddy and Bob Loblaw didn't know each other then. They still don't. But if they did, I bet they would love hating each other. They'd go at each other like the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote over who is right and who is wrong. And right up till the last possible minute, they were both sure they were the right one (...) So what happened when the Millennium arrived? Not what they expected. Not even close. Turns out, whether the apocalypse came or not is beside the point. It's the expectation of it. That's what sets the giant Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-size-ball rolling."

Millennium Approaches” is the first episode of “Surviving Y2K”, a moving recount of the turn-of-the-millennium experiences of "the disaster that never happened" and a fine follow up to hit podcast “Missing Richard Simmons”. Beautifully-narrated by its creator Dan Taberski, the six-episode podcast takes us on an incredible ride of captivating human stories, not only of the two technologists Dave Eddy and Bob Loblaw, but also of a robber barricaded inside a bank with hostages, a man keeping hamsters for meat, a woman racing to give birth to the first baby of 2000, and a husband who came out to his wife, among others.

Remembering Y2K, The Disaster That Never Happened
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