More computer-related disasters that never happened

Yesterday’s events at Cern and the LHC made me think about other events have there been that were supposed to bring about global meltdown. Most of the comments posted to my blog remarked on the mass hysteria that surrounded the event and how the media had overplayed this.

It was far worse in some countries. Paranoia was rife in India where a girl poisoned herself with pesticide in Madhya Pradesh, because she believed the world was coming to an end yesterday.

Five other (technology-related) disasters that never happened:

1. Cern and the LHC – yesterday’s the world’s biggest and most expensive scientific experiment was started and some thought that starting up the Large Hadron Collider would set off the formation of some black holes that woudl swallow the earth. Cern’s aim is to aim to find out the origins of the universe and promises to unlock great secrets of the Cosmos.

AT 9.28am two tiny dots flickered representing two streams of tiny protons. Eventually these protons will collide and crash revealing hopefully some of the deepest secrets of the universe, like how it was formed? So now the real data crunching by banks of computers and the worlds biggest computer grid begins as scientists try to unravel the mysteries.

The event was celebrated yesterday and surprise, surprsie we are still here today to talk about it.

2. Y2K – The obvious big one when the worlds computer systems were going to melt down because date-related processing would no longer be able to operate when the new millenium, January 1, 2000, was reached.   

This fear was fueled by the attendant press coverage and other media speculation. People recognized that long-working systems could break down when the “…97, 98, 99…” ascending numbering assumption suddenly became invalid. Companies and organizations world-wide checked and upgraded their computer systems.

Huge expense was spent in countries like the UK and USA to make systems Y2K compliant, while other countries, such as Italy spent very little. The change-over date came and went amid jubilant millenium celebrations with not so much as a wimper, never mind a bang. The computer industry celebrated and claimed a huge success in defeateing the bug, but was it all hype and unneccessary expense?  

3. Michelangelo – The Michelangelo virus was first found in early 1991 in New Zealand and became a huge news story. By the time Mar 6 arrived (the date that Michelangeo was born), Televisioon networks and major newspapers were predicting it would impact millions of computer systems. In the end it didn’t, it infected very few, although it did wipe out data on a few systems the impact was minimal.  

4. Melissa – a worm virus that was named after a lap dancer that the creator David Smith had met in Florida. It infected and shut down internet mail systems, which got clogged with infected e-mails propagating from the worm. It first surfaced in March 1999, other variants have been found since. Its creator was caught and locked up in jail for 20 months and fined $5000. 

5. No more Jobs in IT – don’t worry. I am of course referring to the published obituary of Steve Jobs by Bloomberg a few weeks ago, I mean we wouldn’t have wonderful Apple gadgets without him? I know its a weak joke, but we were struggling to come up another event that wasn’t a computer virus that was predicted to bring down the world’s computer systems.

Can you think of any other computer-related mass hysteria events? If so let us know

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