Where were you December 31st, 1999?

Estimated read time 3 min read

As we reminisce about the Y2K scare and its impact, it’s fascinating to journey back to December 31st, 1999. The world was abuzz with apprehension, and the IT landscape was a battlefield of preparation. While some faced daunting challenges, my experience as a fledgling IT professional provided a unique vantage point on this momentous event.

For me, December 31st, 1999 wasn’t just another New Year’s Eve. It was a night when my role as an IT professional took center stage. Having embarked on my IT career just a few years earlier, the Y2K bug had become the driving force behind our day-to-day tasks. Back then, I was a sysadmin on an AS400 system, taking over from the previous operator. One of my primary responsibilities was to help ensure our system was Y2K compliant.

In collaboration with corporate consultants, we meticulously reviewed our systems for potential Y2K issues that needed resolution. My tasks involved documenting day-to-day workloads and prioritizing and tracking Y2K-related tasks specific to the AS400 system. The sense of responsibility was palpable, and the stakes were high.

By 1998, I had moved on to Washington University, where I was part of the PC and Server team. As the clock ticked down to the millennium, our focus shifted to applying patches at various levels of the technology stack. Although my role wasn’t directly involved in high-risk software changes and testing, I was entrusted with a task that would test my dedication: I was designated the on-call support person, tethered to my computer and pager for any potential issues.

The anticipation of the Y2K transition night was palpable. As the world counted down, I stayed alert, ready to address any issues that might arise. The evening, however, remained surprisingly uneventful. In fact, I only received one page, a status check that confirmed our systems were running smoothly without any immediate concerns.

Looking back, I’m grateful that my experience wasn’t one of battling fires and critical issues throughout the night. It was a testament to the hard work, meticulous preparation, and collaboration that went into making the Y2K transition as smooth as possible. While some IT professionals faced sleepless nights, I was fortunate to have a relatively calm experience, even if it meant sacrificing a bit of New Year’s celebration.

As we recount the Y2K scare, it’s essential to acknowledge the diverse range of experiences that IT professionals had on that historic night. While some were immersed in crisis management, others like myself were part of a larger team effort to ensure systems ran smoothly. The Y2K bug was a pivotal moment that highlighted the importance of proactive preparation in the world of technology, leaving us with lessons that continue to resonate in modern IT practices.

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