Ding! Whrrrrrrrrrrrr. Crash!

A tiny virus called Michelangelo whips the computer world into a frenzy but in the end creates more hype than havoc

You had to be completely out of touch -- or heavily sedated -- all last week not to have got the word. Bulletins were broadcast hourly from TV and radio stations around the world. Warnings were issued by the FBI, by London's Scotland Yard and by Japan's international trade ministry. Schoolchildren carried home notes from concerned teachers. Computer owners queued up at software outlets, their brows creased in anxious frowns.

It was the largest computer-virus scare to date -- a week-long frenzy of hype and high-tech hand-holding that dramatized the vulnerability of the world's 137 million personal computers -- and the...