To commemorate the 2,000th question on the English Language & Usage stack, I would like to actually know the origin of that word, and whether it originated for the negativity of the "end of the world" or otherwise.
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
I'm not sure if it's apocryphal, but there is this article on Slate regarding the etymology of Y2K:
David Eddy used the term Y2K on 12th June 1995 on Peter de Jager's Year 2000 mailing list. (Unfortunately I've not been able to find a copy of the original email.)
I found an antedating on Usenet, but as part of a variable, posted by Bob Brown to comp.lang.cobol on 2nd May 1995:
The next Y2K on Usenet is in misc.jobs.misc on 4th October 1995:
This "Y2K mailing list" is most likely the one that David Eddy had first posted Y2K to in June 1995.
Y2K is used half a dozen more times on Usenet in December 1995 (including one referring to the De Jager list: "... where everyone else is discussing Y2K issues, including IBM's VM/VSE/MVS developers"), then it really takes off in 1996.
Y2K stands for "the year 2000." This was the year all the ancient computer systems were supposed to crash because they couldn't handle 4-digit years. This was called the Y2K bug, and because of it banks were supposed to fail, airliners to fall out of the sky, and the digital world to come to a messy and somewhat ignominious end. But for a couple of digits the world could have been saved!
In fact the world went blithely on about its business. Reports of its impending demise were, in the words of Mark Twain, "an exaggeration."