1993 - Y2K and Doomsday 2000

Y2K, the Millennium Bug

Many pre-1990 computer programs were designed to abbreviate four-digit years, to two-digits, in order to save memory space.  Unlike today, pre-1990 storage space was expensive and centralised; most hard drives required housing in dedicated computer data centres located in major cities.  Computer programs recognised the abbreviated two-digit year, for example, 98 as 1998, until they reached the two-digit year ‘00’.  Instead of rolling over to the year 2000 as expected, the program would reset the year back to 1900.  It was widely believed that this programming error would result in computer software and hardware malfunctioning worldwide.

National Geographic’s The Y2K Scare Documentary (National Geographic 2014)

Doomsday 2000 Journal Article

The person who is widely recognised as having brought this information to light is Peter de Jager, a South-African born Canadian computer engineer who worked for IBM during the 1980’s.  In the 1993 September issue of Computerworld Magazine, de Jager wrote an article headlined ‘Doomsday 2000’ which detailed the devastating effects this simple date miscalculation might have on the world, and his prophecy that…

“Y2K costs will reach $75 billion”

To learn more about Peter de Jager and the early days of Y2K, read his ‘Doomsday 2000’ article below:

Doomsday 2000 Journal Article
Peter de Jager’s Doomsday 2000 Journal Article (De Jager 1993)

In 2019, de Jager created an informative and detailed webinar series about his career, speaking in front of Congress in 1996 on Y2K, and his experience of media propaganda.  The webinar series extract below will provide you with some interesting backstory of this IT industry veteran:

Peter de Jager’s Y2K: An Autobiography Webinar Series (De Jager 2019)
1993 - Y2K and Doomsday 2000