Time Bomb 2000Time Bomb 2000: What the Year 2000 Computer Crisis Means to You!

Thank you, submitter, for another look at Y2K.  We had another Y2K submission a while back.  Read all about it here!

This was favorably reviewed by Library Journal, and was probably a useful book in 1998 and 1999.  Is it still on library shelves for historical purposes?  I found lots of articles in my library’s databases about Y2K, so my patrons are not at a loss for information about how it all went down, should they be interested.  If you have space, there’s nothing wrong with keeping one or two of these, I guess, but if you don’t have space it’s an easy choice for weeding.  Let the internet and online databases offer this kind of information.

I do love the seriousness of the title: “Time Bomb!”  At the time, that’s what it seemed like: a ticking time bomb.  If it wasn’t figured out in time, the whole infrastructure of the world would have exploded.  Or so they say. I happen to know that Mary filled her bathtub with water on New Year’s Eve 1999, “just in case.”


  1. I remember well the panic of Y2K. If your computer wasn’t up to date, watch out! People were also talking about fallout shelters and stockpiling food for the impending cataclysm. It seems so silly now….

    1. I had a student going on about the impending doom. He told me all about how his mother was stockpiling space food because it didn’t have to be cooked. He went on about how we were all going to be living out in the woods, fending for ourselves. I have no idea how our homes were going to disappear, but I felt it was better not to ask. I also have no idea where she was going to keep all of this food if we weren’t going to have homes, but I am not sure she had thought the whole thing through. I just smiled and backed away slowly.

  2. I loved that book. I probably still have my copy, although it might have been purged in the move.

    I’m in IT and 1999 was a frigging nightmare for us. We were terrified. We had been working on Y2K for four years and had two projects fail on us before we finally got something underway. Our fiscal year started in July, so for us Y2K was July 5, 1999. We finished training our last group of users on July 2-3 and worked direct support on July 4. Fun times.

    Then we spent the rest of the year on the road upgrading hardware that would fail January 1st.

  3. I have a friend who was working as a departmental admin at Cornell University back in 1999. She had to write to the manufacturers of everything the department owned to obtain certificates of “Y2K Compliance.” This included patently non-electronic items like mic stands and bookshelves. As if all the bookshelves would suddenly collapse at the stroke of midnight.

  4. While things probably won’t have been as bad as the worst Y2K predictions, a lot of things that would have happened didn’t because the problem was acknowledged and time and money were invested in dealing with it.

    The reward for fixing things ahead of time is the widespread belief that there wasn’t a problem.

  5. I spent 6 months updating records and converting data to our new format, and New Year’s Eve 1999 performing validations. And I wasn’t even in IT at the time; just a willing pair of hands and a brain to help with the workload.

  6. Y2K is still a problem !
    There is another time bomb with the same potential impact in 2100: not all programmes use 4 digits for their years at the moment, so don’t get too complacent, programmers. You successors will be cursing you in your retirement …

    Other dates to look out for:

    19-Jan-2038 03:14:08 – The date and time when “seconds since Jan 1st, 1970” (a measurement used by many operating systems) is more than unprepared 32-bit systems can handle.

    01-Jan-2050 – When MARC21’s 008/00-05 “Date entered on file” becomes ambiguous: 2050 or 1950 ? or will they make MARC21 Y2K compliant?

    At least they didn’t call it the millennium bug and get us all worried about 01-Jan-2001 !

    I suggest that you archive these books, rather than discarding them, with a note to bring them back out again in the 2070’s when the programmers for the 2090’s are learning their trade. Maybe best not to rely on the eBook version at such times 🙂

    1. I’m pretty sure they did call it the “millennium bug” (I take your point ‘o1 being the start, not ’00) – I’m also sure I don’t need to worry about 2100, 2070 or 2050 – TBH, 2038 is looking a stretch, so thanks for making me feel REALLY old!

  7. Stephanie, there was good reason to be afraid. While airplanes may not have fallen from the sky, certainly a lot of companies, including banks and utilities, would have been paralyzed.

    A lot of money and a lot of very hard work kept this from happening.

  8. I have found only one non-Y2k compliant item in my life, and that was an import converter for my Sega Saturn.

  9. Well, I certainly hope they’ve learned their lesson about necessary digits and are prepared for the year 10,000. 😉

  10. The problem wasn’t primarily with your home or even office personal computer, but with the countless computer-based systems in use elsewhere. For one small instance, millions of gas pipeline valves had to be replaced, and a lot of people worked really hard replacing them. Lots of things have computers in them nowadays that you wouldn’t expect.

    1. Right, and computer-based life-support systems in hospitals, etc. Nightmarish, and not impossible. I had one computer in my library that always used its start-up date as the current date. Every time it rebooted, the virus protection had to be reinstalled and updated.