The Year 2000 Computer Bug
There was once a COBOL programmer in the mid to late 1990s. For the sake
of this story, we'll call him Jack. After years of being taken for
granted and treated as a technological dinosaur by all the UNIX
programmers and Client/Server programmers and website developers,
Jack was finally getting some respect. He'd become a private consultant
specializing in Year 2000 conversions. He was working short-term
assignments for prestige companies, traveling all over the world on
different assignments. He was working 70 and 80 and even 90 hour weeks,
but it was worth it.
Several years of this relentless, mind-numbing work had taken its toll
on Jack. He had problems sleeping and began having anxiety dreams
about the Year 2000. It had reached a point where even the thought of
the year 2000 made him nearly violent. He must have suffered some sort
of breakdown, because all he could think about was how he could avoid
the year 2000 and all that came with it.
Jack decided to contact a company that specialized in cryogenics.
He made a deal to have himself frozen until March 15th, 2000. This was
very expensive process and totally automated. He was thrilled. The
next thing he would know is he'd wake up in the year 2000; after the
New Year celebrations and computer debacles; after the leap day.
Nothing else to worry about except getting on with his life.
He was put into his cryogenic receptacle, the technicians set the
revive date, he was given injections to slow his heartbeat to a bare
minimum, and that was that.
The next thing that Jack saw was an enormous and very modern room
filled with excited people. They were all shouting "I can't believe
it!" and "It's a miracle" and "He's alive!". There were cameras
(unlike any he'd ever seen) and equipment that looked like it came out
of a science fiction movie.
Someone who was obviously a spokesperson for the group stepped
forward. Jack couldn't contain his enthusiasm. "It is over?" he asked.
"Is 2000 already here? Are all the millennial parties and promotions
and crises all over and done with?"
The spokesman explained that there had been a problem with the
programming of the timer on Jack's cryogenic receptacle, it hadn't
been year 2000 compliant. It was actually eight thousand years later,
not the year 2000. But the spokesman told Jack that he shouldn't get
excited; someone important wanted to speak to him.
Suddenly a wall-sized projection screen displayed the image of a man
that looked very much like Bill Gates. This man was Prime Minister of
Earth. He told Jack not to be upset. That this was a wonderful time to
be alive. That there was world peace and no more starvation. That the
space program had been reinstated and there were colonies on the moon
and on Mars. That technology had advanced to such a degree that
everyone had virtual reality interfaces which allowed them to contact
anyone else on the planet, or to watch any entertainment, or to hear
any music recorded anywhere.
"That sounds terrific," said Jack. "But I'm curious. Why is everybody
so interested in me?"
"Well," said the Prime Minister. "The year 10000 is just around the
corner, and it says in your files that you know COBOL".
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