As most of humanity was looking forward to New Year’s day 2021, there was a completely opposite anticipation for New Year’s day 2000. If you were born before 1985, you probably remember that time well.

It was the dreaded Y2K.

Y2K is the shorthand term for “the year 2000.” Y2K was commonly used to refer to a widespread computer programming shortcut that was expected to cause extensive havoc as the year changed from 1999 to 2000.

Instead of allowing four digits for the year, many computer programs only allowed two digits (99 instead of 1999). As a result, there was immense panic that computers would be unable to operate when the date descended from “99” to “00”.

In the years and months leading up to the turn of the millennium, computer experts and financial analysts feared that the switch from the two-digit year ’99 to ’00 would wreak havoc on computer systems ranging from airline reservations to financial databases to government systems. Millions of dollars were spent in the lead-up to Y2K in IT and software development to create patches and workarounds to squash the bug.1

In other words, all hell was supposed to break loose at exactly midnight, December 31, 1999.

My very first exposure to the idea of Y2K was during the Profiles of Ashtabula County breakfast series held on the college campus I used to work with. In fact, January 1999 was my first Profiles breakfast of more than a decade to follow. The speaker told us how “we got here and what could be expected.” He also laid out preventative measurements in case something happened. Especially if we lost power to the grid.

This was real “end of the world” kinda stuff.

Fast forward to the New Year’s Eve party at Dennis and Sandy Dix’s house out in the middle of nowhere northeast Ohio. The vast majority of us were in their basement. There was a little talk about Y2K, but didn’t seem like much worry.

As we turned our attention to the countdown, we grabbed our glasses and whoever we were going to kiss at midnight.


There were several fearful cries, and of course we couldn’t see a thing in an unfamiliar basement. I did hear a couple people bump into things.

But just moments before that happened, I had noticed the absence of our host and giggling during the countdown off in a distant corner of the basement.

Yes. Dennis had thrown the master breaker switch on the entire house just as the clock hit midnight.

It was EPIC!

As you know, nothing much came out of Y2K. Although we don’t abbreviate years much anymore.

1 Investopedia