In 1999, there was a belief that a bug called Y2K was going to send the world into apocalyptic anarchy. When the clock struck January 1, 2000, some thought Y2K was going to make computers go January 1, 1900, causing a global technological meltdown. That was then.
And 15 years later, this bug is rearing it’s head again. In Pennsylvania, over 14,000 men received notices claiming they must register for selective service, a potential military draft. These men were born in the 1890s, and all are deceased, so their families are the ones who got the notices. But even if some were alive, they would be in their 110s, obviously way too old to participate in any military service. The mistake was on the part of Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Transportation and Selective Service. Those notices were to go to young men born between 1993 and 1997. But because someone chose the wrong century, they went to the deceased men. Selective Service, who issued the notices, didn’t catch the mistake immediately because of the two digit code to indicate the year of birth (for example, someone born 2/1/95 meant someone born in 1995, not 1895).
I’m glad the mistake was caught and quickly corrected. But that’s exactly what people were afraid of back in 1999. When the century changed, documents dating, say, 3/1/00 were going be interpreted by computers as 3/1/1900 instead of 3/1/2000. Ever wonder what life would be like if Y2K really did run rampant as it was feared to?