Y2K is a numeronym and was the common abbreviation for the year 2000 software problem; and, for the benefit of millennial readers, the abbreviation combines the letter ‘Y’ for year and ‘K’ for the SI unit prefix kilo, meaning 1000. Hence, 2K signifies 2000.
It was also named the ‘Millennium Bug’ because it was associated with the popular (rather than literal) roll-over of the Millennium, even though most of the problems could have occurred at the end of any ordinary century.
In essence, Y2K was a class of computer bugs related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates beginning in the year 2000. Problems were anticipated, and arose, because many programs represented four-digit years with only the final two digits – making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900.
In reality, the fear of a fallout was huge – to the extent that TIME magazine highlighted the hysteria on its cover on 18 January of 1999 under the headline: The End of the World!?!
At the same time as Y2K-problem lawsuits began to be filed, wilderness-survival bootcamps became more popular and NBC aired a made-for-TV movie about ‘the coming disaster’.
Of course, there was no cataclysm, as prognosticators at companies and organisations –worldwide – checked, fixed and upgraded computer systems to address the anticipated problem (with some ease as it turned out).