The History And The Hype

Computer scientists may disarm the Y2K bomb in time, but that doesn't mean they didn't screw up

Two digits. That's all. Just two lousy digits. 1957, they should have written, not 57. 1970 rather than 70. Most important, 01-01-2000 would have been infinitely preferable to 01-01-00. Though most of the dire predictions connected with that date--the Year 2000 computer bug's moment of truth--are unlikely to come true, a little computer-generated chaos would provide a fitting conclusion to a 40-year story of human frailties: greed, shortsightedness and a tendency to rush into new technologies before thinking them through.

How did this happen? Who is responsible for the bug we call Y2K? Conventional wisdom goes something like this: back...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!