A New Year’s Glitch

January 16, 2020
CmdrDan [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Every system you use, whether it’s your school calendar or your video service, is set up by people. And often, people don’t know what the future will be like. Case in point: When drivers in New York tried to pay for their parking meters on January 1st, 2020, they were surprised to find that the meters would not allow their credit cards. You see, the system was set up with an “end date” to credit card usage. That end date? Yep, it was set to January 1st, 2020.

If you think that’s crazy, you might want to ask around about one of the most well-known technology phenomena earlier in the century: the Y2K bug. Y2K referred to the year 2000, and more specifically, to the turn of the century from December 31st, 1999 to January 1st, 2000.

via Pixabay

At the time, most computer systems were set up to use the last two digits of the year (so 1997 was often referred to as 97, for example). It seems that nobody anticipated the problem with the year 2000, which would technically be 00, so banking systems, airline systems, and many others were expected to malfunction when the clock turned midnight on December 31st, 1999. What if the year 2000 was registered as the year 00 and reset everything? Thankfully, systems were upgraded and ready for the change before any real impact. But the Y2K bug reminded a lot of people that technology is still built by humans, which means they’re prone to human mistakes and oversights!