As clocks around the world approached 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 1999, revelers wondered what would happen as the hands struck midnight – would computers crash and send daily routines into chaos?
The possibility of such a scenario was brought up as computer experts realized the potential of a “Y2K bug,” especially with older computer systems. As the problem was being addressed, it still caused a certain amount of panic because older systems only used the last two digits of the year – if the year generated as 00 it could be interpreted as 1900 instead of 2000. This populated fears that banks would not have funds available, and electrical and water pumping facilities would shut down. While some people pulled money from banks and stocked up on water and batteries, software and hardware programmers raced to create Y2K compliant updates by simply changing the previous 2-digit year format to a 4-digit format.
Coverage regarding the Y2K bug in the Northeast News in 1999 only mentions that a local Volkswagen car owner was seen sporting custom license plates reading “Y2K BUG.”
In the first issue of 2000, Bunny the Newshound’s January 5 column relates the only local glitch.
“Y2K has come in with nary a glitch, sans one. At about five minutes after midnight on New Year’s day, streetlights throughout Northeast went out. About 30 seconds later, however, light once again bathed our streets and boulevards. Someone [was] obviously asleep at the switch, or was playing a practical joke.”
For those who wanted to party instead of hunker down, revelers could wear glitter-decorated hats reading “2000 Celebrate The Millenium”. Distributed by East West Dist.Co. of Deerfield, Ill., the hats were made in Mexico. The price was 59 cents each or 2 /$1.00 at the local Walgreens store.