The millennium: What was all the fuss about?

So the world didn't end. But now that the dust has settled, what exactly did happen at the turn of the millennium?

Now that the dust has settled on the pandemonium of millennium bug preparations, you could be forgiven for feeling a little confused as to what the real problems have been. There certainly weren't any international catastrophes, but does that mean it was a lot of fuss over nothing?

According to a survey of 1,750 technology workers by the online division of CMP Media, 25 percent said that their company had suffered some sort of glitch as the clock ticked into the new millennium. That same survey, however, showed that 63 percent of those same workers did not foresee any future problems with the millennium bug.

The world's computers appear to have survived their biggest test ever, but what sorts of problems have there actually been and can we relax just yet?

Before anyone had even been able to brace themselves for computerised Armageddon, credit-card computers across Britain started malfunctioning because of a millennium related bug apparently signalling impending doom.

The big day itself, however, went off quietly -- even disappointingly so. No aeroplanes fell out of the sky and Mongolian powerstations refused to explode, no doubt to the embarrassment of those who had barricaded themselves in their houses with stockpiles of marmalade and cat food.

The big day didn't go off entirely without incident, though. As soon as everyone realised that the world had not actually been destroyed by faulty Bavarian nuclear missiles, they started to notice a number of amusing and confusing automatic Web site updates that had year-2000 watchers in stitches, for a few minutes at least. Particularly ironic was the Y2K Information Centre's site, which itself tripped up on New Years Day.

Misprinted dates in official letters and documents may seem innocuous enough when compared to global computer meltdown, but occurrences of these resulted in some potentially disastrous situations including nearly the untimely release of a member of the Italian Mafia and an inexplicable telephone bill.

Banks did also not get off completely. One in Germany accidentally issued one customer with £4m of credit and 100,000 computer bankers in Sweden were struck by a Y2K related hiccup in their Web browsers' digital signature software.

Stock exchanges weren't slammed by the instant recession predicted by some, but slumped due to entirely mundane causes -- namely anticipation of rises in interest rates.

These mistakes may have been relatively minor and easy to fix but, as experts have repeatedly warned, many millennial problems may not turn up for weeks or months. It also appears that fears of computer virus epidemics timed to coincide with the New Year could yet surface.

For more millennium coverage see the Year 2000 Special.

Read about the Millennium millions on AnchorDesk

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