Y2K Glossary

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A computer programmer or hardware engineer.


Someone who Gets It, “It” being Y2K.

grid, power grid

The network of electrical generation plants and transmission systems that provide power to North America. Actually divided into several smaller regional grids, but talk of what would happen if and when “the grid goes down” was ubiquitous among online Y2Kers.

Hamasaki, Cory

A mainframe programmer from the Washington, DC, area who posted frequently to comp.software.year-2000. Throughout the runup to Y2K, he produced a series of lively, sometimes humorous, but generally bleak “DC Weather Reports” that were widely circulated and quoted from.


year2000@infomagic.com was the email address used for Y2K-related online posting by an especially gloomy programmer (Ivan Mingham). He predicted, with great certainty, a scenario far bleaker than did even Gary North or other prominent doomers: a humankind-wide “devolutionary spiral” in which most of the social and technological progress of the past several hundred years would be undone, leading to a reduction in the earth’s carrying capacity and the death of a majority of the world’s population. “Infomagic” itself was simply the name of this fellow’s email provider, but became a both a nickname for him and shorthand for the level of disaster he described: “if Y2K goes Infomagic” meant “if it’s really, really, really bad.”

Iron Triangle

Banking, utilities, and telecommunications: the three crucial industries without which modern society cannot function. Because of their interdependency, the failure of just one of these three would cause the other two to fail as well.

JIT, just-in-time production

The modern manufacturing practice of storing only the parts immediately needed, rather than warehousing a large supply. This entails relying on suppliers to replenish the needed parts frequently and in a timely fashion, or the whole assembly line might have to shut down; therefore, if any part of your supply chain is in Y2K trouble, so are you.

Jo Anne Effect

A particular type of Y2K bug that would potentially begin to strike accounting systems in early 1999. See this post for more detail.

Koskinen, John

The Clinton administration’s “Y2K Czar.” (He was Chairman of the President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion.) Often derided as a hopeless polly for his optimistic assessments.

legacy code/software/applications

Software that’s still in active use in an organization, but which was written long ago by programmers who no longer work there. Often difficult for the current programmers to modify or fix, due to its unfamiliarity, its having been worked on by many different people over the years, and the fact that much legacy code in large companies is written in semi-obsolete languages like COBOL.

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