Y2K: Almost Scot-Free

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

No News is Bad News To Some

by Gerry Brown
Seattle space needle

In Seattle, Y2K celebrations around the space needle were toned down in response to terrorist rumblings. (photo source: arttoday.com)

Related Links

There were some minor glitches. Breathalyzers in Hong Kong failed. A video store near Albany, New York charged a $91,250 late fee.

"Looks like we made it." People everywhere who feared the dreaded Y2K bug may very well have had the words to Barry Manilow's song in their hangover-clouded heads on Saturday morning as they turned on the faucet, flicked the light switch, or flushed the toilet.

After a year of mind-numbing newspaper stories, magazine covers, TV specials and even made-for-TV movies, the Y2K bug turned out to be the most overly-hyped event since Geraldo Rivera busted open Al Capone's secret vault.

Awaiting Catastrophe

On Friday morning in the United States, Auckland, New Zealand became the first big city in the world to switch to 01/01/2000. No problems were reported and very few ever materialized. Not that people were rooting for terrorist bombings or widespread cataclysm.

It was almost a disappointment after all the warnings, bulletins, and doomsdays predictions. No power outages, no food shortages, no contaminated drinking water. What a bummer.

Minor Glitches

There were some minor glitches. Breathalyzers in Hong Kong failed. A video store near Albany, New York charged a $91,250 late fee. An X-ray machine in Norway stopped working. But no power grids were shut down, no planes were grounded, and no financial markets crashed.

There was almost a Y2K-related heart attack in Germany however. An online customer of a Cologne bank logged on to his account and found a balance of 3,930,129,930, although no currency was noted. Another customer at the same bank also found an extra 13 million marks in his account.

So far the worst thing to happen in the U.S. was when the Pentagon lost contact with a military intelligence reconnaissance satellite.

Problems Yet to Come?

But all those that spent thousands on generators and Y2K survival supplies can still take heart in the reports that many problems may be yet to come. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said on Larry King Live that many snafus could crop up in the coming weeks and months.

"There is still a mess that will have to be cleaned up," Gates told the CNN talkmeister on Saturday. For people still hoping to find an ATM spitting out twenties, there's still a chance it could happen. It appears there was a little good news after all.

Sources +
See also: