As the clock ticked down on December 31, 1999, the world could not help but watch with at least a little trepidation. But when the ball dropped in Times Square and the new year officially arrived, nothing happened except a huge celebration. Thankfully, the beast that was Y2K barely made itself heard. No cities went dark, few computers expired in a frenzy of confusion, the water systems pumped along smoothly. And few, if any, co-ops or condos reported problems with their systems. All was well. So why, given all the pre-event concerns, did everything go so smoothly?
"I'm not sure what the cause (of the quiet) was," says Bob Mackoul, president of Mackoul and Associates, an insurance brokerage firm in Lynbrook, NY. "Either everyone was concerned enough to follow through and make sure all their ducks were in a row or it was divine intervention."
It certainly seemed that some sort of intervention would be necessary when word of potential Y2K catastrophes surfaced several years ago. The problem originated in the 1950s when computer programmers, concerned with taking up valuable memory space, shortened year designations from four to two digits (e.g., using "57" to signify 1957). As the year 2000 drew near, programmers realized that computers might not be able to recognize the difference between 1900 and 2000. It was a horrifying thought for a society whose every technology - from air travel to stoves to medical equipment - is predicated on the microchip.
Board members and management companies for co-ops and condos across New York City made Y2K preparedness a priority in the months leading up to the New Year, getting ready for any potential difficulties months, even years, in advance.