The turn of the calendar from 1999 into the year 2000 was cause for celebration but also cause for concern--at least the media made sure it was hyped that way! Would the Y2K computer bug at the turn of the millennium cause the end of the world as we knew it? Most of us didn't want to believe it was possible, but we stocked up on cases of water and partied like no one's business on New Year's Eve just to make sure!
As the millennium approached, the Y2K bug made many people nervous! Early computer programs often used two-digit dates to designate the year to save memory and storage, which were expensive. People worried that this "bug" would trigger computer system errors--causing crucial infrastructures like utilities to fail as midnight hit. People stockpiled on emergency food and bottled water “just in case.”
Lots of companies tried to cash in on the fervor surrounding the year 2000. The Mars candy company started early, promoting its M&M's as "The Official Candy of the New Millennium" by 1998. And Microsoft sold Year 2000 resource CDs for people to prepare their computers for Y2K.
But like any holiday, people still had parties, and they still wore silly hats, weird glasses, and sparkly clothing. What happened when the countdown came? Nothing! 20 years later, we laugh about the non-event that Y2K turned out to be. Here at The Henry Ford, we have collections that document “the battle of the bug,” and the leadup to the day the world didn’t end.