Toronto residents remember Y2K New Year's Eve scare
TORONTO -- Toronto residents say they remember the turn of the century, the last day of 1999 and the fears that worldwide computer systems would collapse, like it was yesterday.
People in Toronto and across the world were fearful because many computer systems were designed to categorize dates by the last two digits of a year, making people worried what would happen when the date rolled over from 1999 to year 2000.
People worried that computers wouldn't be able to interpret the New Year or would read these dates as invalid, causing glitches around the world.
News reports showed that many people were so worried they even stocked up on batteries, water and generators to make sure they would be safe as the year changed.
In 1999, Toronto high school teacher Robert Knetsch was a Y2K project manager for a lab at the Toronto General Hospital.
Instead of ringing in the New Year with his wife and friends, he was stuck in the basement of a building on College Street where the Mars Discovery District currently stands.
“I remember we were getting ready to roll over, all of us in the department were on standby,” he told CTV News Toronto.
By that time, the hospital had already spent more than two years testing and checking various computer-related departments to ensure that patient records and health devices would not be disrupted by the change to the year 2000.
But Knetsch still had to be there on New Year’s Eve, he said, to make sure nothing went wrong.
“I actually found it quite exciting. It was a worldwide phenomenon,” he said. “Certainly to go to a party and celebrate is fun, but I had done that every year of my life before.”
Toronto resident and Y2K expert Peter de Jager said the he spent the turn of the millennium crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a plane.
“I would continually get asked ‘Is it safe to fly?’” de Jager said.
So he booked a flight to prove that it was.
De Jager said that some $300 billion was spent on the preparations for Y2K, as people were testing and fixing computer systems years before the new millennium began.
He said he knew everything would be alright.