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January 05, 2005

The Legacy of Y2K

We just passed the fifth anniversary of Y2K, amazingly enough. I remember that I was considering leaving Microsoft in late 1999, but I stuck around 1) to make it to my ten-year anniversary and 2) just in case the world went to heck, I could move the family into my office at Microsoft (Microsoft had brought in giant generators for every building).

Of course it turns out things went pretty smoothly, but I have never heard a satisfactory answer on what would happened with no preparation. You hear that Russia, as an example, spent almost nothing on Y2K, but maybe their infrastructure is less computer-dependent. And I don't think there was a lot of analysis of existing systems; instead they were just replaced, so we don't know if they were lurking time bombs or not.

Here is an interesting article about The Surprising Legacy of Y2K (also covered on Slashdot). It doesn't really answer the question, but there is one quote from the President's Y2K advisor: "The low level wind shear detectors at every major airport go out at 7:00 on Friday night, the defense intelligence satellite system goes down, the French intelligence satellite goes down, the Japanese lose the ability to monitor a couple of their nuclear power plants, and come Monday morning, there are thousands of businesses that when you buy something with your credit card charge you every day of the week."

The article also points out something I hadn't really thought of, which was that preparing for Y2K, being such a crunch on programmers, was the time when Indian outsourcing really took hold.

Posted by AdamBa at January 5, 2005 09:13 PM

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