January 11, 2011, 1:42 PM — The dawn of the new millennium prompted fears about the future, but so far reality has not quite matched the predictions of catastrophe. The first ten years passed uneventfully--well, aside from Y2K and a bunch of intelligent computer viruses. Here's a look back at the past decade, and ten of the most terrifying tech scares.
Predicted outcome: End of the world and technology as we know it
Actual outcome: Accidental alarms, slot machine failures, incorrect dates on Websites
If you were around for the turn of the millennium, you undoubtedly heard something about Y2K and its potential outcomes. Then you probably felt like it didn't live up to the hype when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000, and nuclear missiles didn't start automatically launching themselves.
The "millennium bug" actually could have happened at the turn of any regular ol' century--not just the millennium. The concern was valid: Many computing systems used two digits to store the year, and so the rollover from 99 to 00 could cause various logic errors (such as recognizing the New Year as 19100) that would cause the system to fail.
Luckily, technicians were aware of the issue (it was first mentioned in print as early as 1984), and made the appropriate corrections. While the fear-mongering media no doubt overhyped Y2K, it was a real problem that would have caused some large-scale issues had your trusty IT guys not been on the ball.
2. Conficker Worm
Predicted outcome: Not applicable
Actual outcome: An estimated 10 million home/business/government computers under its control