Fears of massive system failures abounded, including worries about errant missile launches thanks to computers confused about what century we were in. But the calendar flipped from Dec. 31, 1999, to Jan. 1, 2000, with the world relatively unscathed from the Y2K switchover.
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Ironically, the clock ticking to Jan. 19, 2038, poses a similar threat to some systems today. Languages such as C, C++, and early Unix languages stored dates in an odd way beginning in 1970, says Drake Coker, chief technologist for application development at Cobol provider Micro Focus. "That overflows 32 bits" on Jan. 19, 2038, Coker says. Older software will experience the problem, he says, but "it won't be as big" of a problem as Y2K.
The Y2K countdown: Tech's big drama If you worked in technology, you might remember that New Year's Day as different from others. Instead of watching college football games or recovering from the previous night's celebrations, you may have had to work or at least be on call to keep watch over potential Y2K-generated mishaps.
These days, however, the biggest reminder of Y2K comes perhaps from TV reruns of the cult classic film, "Office Space," which had depressed computer specialist Peter Gibbons, played by Ron Livingston, explaining the Y2K switch to waitress Joanna, played by Jennifer Aniston. That scene certainly dates the movie.