What was the Y2K bug?

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The Y2K bug, also known as the Year 2000 problem or the Millennium Bug, was a computer flaw that was expected to cause problems when dealing with dates beyond December 31, 1999. The issue arose because many computer programs, especially those written in the early days of computers, represented four-digit years with only the final two digits — making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900. This was done to save data storage space, which was expensive at the time134. As the year 2000 approached, there was widespread concern that this bug could cause software and hardware failures in computers used in a variety of applications, leading to widespread chaos. It was feared that such a misreading would lead to errors in calculations, disruptions in utilities systems, government records, and more. Many devices containing computer chips, including elevators, temperature-control systems in commercial buildings, and medical equipment, were believed to be at risk14. In response to the potential threat, extensive efforts were made to check and correct systems worldwide. This involved a significant amount of work and financial investment. For example, General Motors stated that it would cost $565 million to fix problems arising from the bug3. The United Nations International Y2K Coordination Centre estimated the total global cost as between $300 billion and $500 billion8. Despite the extensive preparations, few major failures occurred in the transition from December 31, 1999, to January 1, 2000. There were some minor disruptions, mainly in small businesses, but no major end-of-the-world events or significant issues occurred at 12:00 AM on January 1, 200046. The Y2K bug is now often used as an example of how potential technological problems can be mitigated with enough foresight and preparation.
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