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December 30, 2021 18 mins
The biggest, and very first story of the year 2000, involved a bug that was expected to impact tens of millions of lives all over the world.
But unlike the Covid-19 pandemic of today, The Millennium Bug, or Y2K for short, was a computer programming problem, with predicted Armageddon-like consequences.
In the months leading up to the year 2000, people feared the world was on the brink of disaster; that planes would fall from the sky, cardiac pacemakers would stop, and nuclear reactors would shut down. The problem was devastatingly simple - computers were never programmed to read dates beyond 31 December 1999. And the inability to do so, at 12-midnight on 1 January 2000, could lead to a global computer crash.
Governments around the world spent an estimated $500 billion trying to fix the problem.
Each individual nation had their own unique concerns.
In Russia, the military moved to protect the software that secured their nuclear weapons systems.
And in Western Australia, the Ministry of Justice feared an overly automated prison system would fail, allowing the opportunity for thousands of inmates and the state’s most dangerous prisoners, to escape.
So, they hired Matthew Hackling, a young, unassuming cyber security engineer, who was then dispatched to the state’s most notorious prisons.
Could Matthew win the race against time to prevent this millennium catastrophe?

In 2021, Sky News is marking some of the century’s biggest news events through the personal stories of lives defined by unforgettable moments from the last 21-years. The Y2K Prison Bug is episode 21 — and the final instalment of StoryCast ’21.


The Y2K Prison Bug was written and produced by Rob Mulhern.
Recordings and original idea, by Tom Gillespie
with special thanks to Matthew Hackling.
Archive, Simon Windsor
TV treatment, Victoria Hudson-Grant
Digital, Tom Gillespie
Head of Radio, Sky News, Dave Terris
Design and graphics, Brian Gillingham
Social media, Sam Gould
Press and Marketing, Alexandra Horton
For more on this story, visit www.skynews/storycast21
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