Y2K Glossary

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Eastabrook scale

A 1-to-5 scale for ranking one’s personal level of preparation for Y2K, introduced by Greg Eastabrook on comp.software.year-2000. It was used in a monthly survey of the newsgroup, along with the Edwards scale. (Note that the first scale cited here appears to be not in fact the Eastabrook scale but perhaps a version of the Infomagic scale. There were a lot of scales.)

Edwards scale

A 1-to-5 scale for ranking the predicted severity of Y2K, introduced by Phil Edwards on comp.software.year-2000. It was used in a monthly survey of the newsgroup, along with the Eastabrook scale, and the possible rankings ranged from “bump in the road” to “total economic collapse.” Also commonly used as an adjective, as in “I think it’ll be an Edwards 4.” (In The End as I Know It I use the fictional “Neuhardt scale” to stand in for Edwards.)

embeddeds, embedded chips

Microprocessors contained in hardware—appliances, electronics, assembly lines, power plants, oil rigs, etc. The prevalence of Y2K susceptibility in embeddeds was never quite clear, but some maintained that the sheer number of chips out there, and the need to physically replace many of them, would make this an extra-impossible aspect of the problem.

enterprise (systems)

Large-scale, hopefully very robust software used throughout a large corporation or other organization. In the past, associated with mainframe computers and languages like COBOL. While many laypeople only considered desktop and home PCs and wondered what all the Y2K fuss was about, it was enterprise-scale systems that were most vulnerable to date problems due to the amount of legacy code involved, and both the most difficult and the most important to fix.

fiat currency

A monetary system, like the one used in the United States, in which currency is not backed by precious metal (as in the gold standard) or any other commodity. Rather, the status of currency as legal tender is based on a declaration (fiat) by the government. Fundamentally wrong and in need of abolition, according to some, through TEOTWAWKI if not through the legislature.


A computer programming language used extensively on early mainframe computers, especially for scientific applications, and still in use, as of the pre-Y2K period, in many legacy applications.

fractional reserve banking

A system, currently in place in the United States and the rest of the industrialized world, in which banks (individually and collectively) hold in reserve only a fraction of the amount of money their customers have on deposit—meaning that if everyone wanted to withdraw their money at once, the bank(s) would not have enough. Held to be not only unsustainable in the face of Y2K, but morally and Biblically wrong, by Gary North and some of his followers.

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