As december 31st neared, the media was completely frenzied. Not only was the world worried about what horrible computer problems would befall us, but now a new threat was looming. Terrorists were thought to be plotting major attacks to coincide with the New Year's celebrations. The stories were endless.
Russia was sending representatives to NORAD to make sure there were no nuclear threats. It was thought that with computer problems our respective countries might perceive launches that weren't real.
Hospitals were loading up with extra personnel, fearing the unknown.
Buildings all over the country were shutting down their elevators between 11:55 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. The fear was that elevators would stop and people would get stuck or worse, plummet 50 stories. Not to be too selfish, but my biggest concern here was that my party guests would be stuck indefinitely at my apartment.
Seattle canceled its New Year's celebrations due to terrorist threats.
And television stations like PBS and ABC were going to be broadcasting live for 24 hours, bringing us the New Year's celebrations from all over the world. I watched with anticipation as correspondents stood by at Y2K headquarters, and everyone waited to see what fate would befall the planet. As it became 2000 in Australia, everything seemed to go off without a hitch. The celebrations saw no terrorism, the ATMs were still dispensing cash, and planes were still flying.
And so the other countries followed China, Japan, London, Paris, and the United States. And one by one we watched. At the end of the day the biggest news was the resignation of Boris Yeltsin and how many outfits Peter Jennings wore during his 24 hours on the air. The ATMs had plenty of cash, the markets had plenty of water, and the friendly skies remained so. A relief for sure. But also, if truth be told, a bit of a letdown. Countries that spent almost no money on Y2K compliance were having the same lack of problems as the United States. And we spent billions. So was it worth it? I guess we'll never really know for sure.
Since that day I have heard of a few minor glitches. A man returning a video tape was told he owed millions because the computer showed he had the tape out for a hundred years. The New York area airports experienced minor problems one day in January, but no one knows if they were Y2K related. If you or anyone you know has experienced any related problems, we would love to hear about them. E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.