December 13, 2007
A MEMORABLE NEW YEAR’S EVE
New Year’s Eve has never been very important to me except for
one occasion. The turn of the Millennium was an event much
anticipated and even feared. Dire predictions of Y2K when all
sorts of problems were expected to occur caused companies to
expend vast sums of money in order to prevent catastrophes of
the computer kind. Such problems, if they happened, would have
affected our lifestyles and even the economy in general, not
only in Canada but across the world. A serious threat indeed!
Wikipedia explained the Y2K factor as the Year 2000 problem. It
was also described as a “ticking time bomb for all major
computer applications.” It became a catch-phrase for all 2000
bug-related problems. One quote illustrating the general worry
follows, “No one quite knows what will happen as the computer
clock ticks over to the year 2000. Could this be the end of life
as we know it or is it all over-blown paranoia?”
As early as 1971 and again in 1979 warnings appeared that there
might be a problem. However those warnings were ignored and it
was not until the 1990’s as the end of the century was
approaching, that serious concerns became addressed. When
computer clocks were devised, two digits were allocated for the
day, month and year – thus six digits in all. This was to save
costly memory space. Thus when the clocks would turn to 2000, it
would read 00 for the year. It was stated this could mean 1900
and lead to malfunctions, miscalculations and network shutdown.
Therefore plans were developed to address these problems.
The fateful night arrived. My husband and I drove to the home of
Floyd and Jeanette Laughren, our long-time friends, with whom it
had become traditional to spend New Year’s Eve. Some other
friends were there as well and an air of excitement was evident.
Even though none of us was really concerned that the “world as
we knew it would come to an end”, questions and comments arose
as to the possibilities. It made for lively conversation! Floyd
turned on the radio as well as the television and we watched
2000 arrive in Sydney, Australia – spectacular! No problems!
Relief! Then we were treated to wonderful shows in Europe – I
particularly remember the Eiffel Tower in Paris seemingly
exploding with brilliant fireworks! We were shown celebrations
in London, Amsterdam, Prague, Moscow – all welcoming in the new
century in grand and fitting style. Thousands of people had
gathered together on the streets and squares throughout the
world. Close to midnight we watched the glittering ball descend
slowly in Times Square in New York City and all of us counted
down along with Dick Clark. “Three, two, one…HAPPY NEW YEAR and
WELCOME to the 21ST CENTURY!!” The year 2000 had arrived and -
no catastrophes! Life and its vagaries would continue on as it
always had. One could almost hear the sighs of relief in
computer labs and boardrooms all across the world.