This Page 1 of the Jan. 2, 2000, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette declared the Hogs champions and Y2K a dud. The top headline declares “Hogs gore ’Horns in Cotton Bowl,” and the unimpressed reaction to the so-called start of a new millennium appears in the headline below it: “Yawn, yawn.”
The new millennium would not begin until 2001. But as the year 2000 approached, widespread anxiety arose about a problem related to common computer programming, in which years were distinguished using only the years’ last two digits. Many feared computer systems would not be able to differentiate between the years 2000 and 1900, potentially leading to catastrophic errors with utilities, banking and other areas involving critical data.
According to a 2004 Washington Post article, Bob Bemer, a pioneer computer programmer, had predicted this problem early on: “Mr. Bemer had first published a warning in 1971 about the problems that would arise from using two digits instead of four to represent years in computer code … [Bemer] continued the warnings until he retired in 1982. No one listened until it was almost too late.”
2000 arrived generally free of technological crises. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “after more than a year of international alarm, feverish preparations and programming corrections, few major failures occurred.”
Around midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, in Arkansas, minor electrical problems were reported in various cities, but the Democrat-Gazette described them as unrelated to Y2K. “In west Little Rock, Cave City, Sidney and Harrisburg, 4,400 Entergy customers lost electrical power shortly before or after midnight Saturday.” The power failures in Cave City and Sidney were reportedly due to an act of vandalism in which “someone scaled the fence and tripped a circuit breaker.” In Harrisburg, the loss of power was caused by a car accident “at 12:08 a.m. Saturday when a motorist … bent a pole and knocked out service to 599 customers until about 1:30 a.m.”
The next day, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared the Y2K bug “deader than Elvis.”
Of greater import to Arkansans was the Razorbacks’ Cotton Bowl win, “their first New Year’s Day bowl victory since the 1978 Orange Bowl.” The Democrat-Gazette reported: “It’s probably going to be a long time before Arkansas gets a more satisfying feeling than it had after Saturday’s 27-6 victory over Texas in the Cotton Bowl.” The Hogs would go on to win their next bowl meeting with the Longhorns, at the 2014 Texas Bowl, with a final score of 31-7.
— Kara Cravens
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