Watch Computer Experts Discuss the Y2K Problem in 1999

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Archive.org // Computer Chronicles
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In the late 1990s, computer nerds (myself included) were up in arms about the Y2K problem. In brief, the issue was that many computer systems used six-digit dates (two digits each for day, month, and year), which meant that when the year 2000 hit, the system might read it as 1900. That could be a big problem.

Much money, time, and computer programming was necessary to fix the Y2K Problem, and for the most part, we survived just fine. But anyone using a computer in 1999 (especially for business) was pretty concerned about keeping things clean. In this 1999 episode of Computer Chronicles, host Stewart Cheifet goes deep on the Y2K bug. Exhibit A is Cheifet's own credit card from Shell, which expires in the year "1000." Oops.

In this episode, Cheifet and friends dig into a bunch of actual applications that are not Y2K-safe. Perhaps the biggest problem was with spreadsheets, which often included lots of dates and date math. In this episode, a Symantec rep comes along with a tool that reviews all your Windows apps for problems. A Microsoft rep shows some Wizards (oh, the 90s) to help with Excel problems.

Have a look, and think back to a time when we were thoroughly ready to flip out on New Year's Eve:

There's one other notable part of this episode—the demo of Audible (now Audible.com), around the 26-minute mark. At the time, Audible was a combination web service and hardware player (basically a proto-MP3 player with poor fidelity). The player cost $200, or $99 if you committed to buying a handful of books on tape, er, digital. Amazon eventually bought Audible in 2008.

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