Flashback – it’s 1999, and the world is braced for the unknown. Computers were all the rage, and were running virtually every facet of our lives. News media began to sound the alarm that humanity might be headed over a cliff with the turn of the century to 2000. Brace yourself for the Y2K Crisis.
These three City of Dothan I.T. Women in Tech were tasked as the Y2K team and their goal was to identify the applications on the municipality’s main menu that would be affected by the change in the millennium and modify the RPG files as well as the programs to be able to handle all of the Y2K needs on the IBM mid-range AS/400.
Left to right: Jennifer Taylor, Teresa Wright, Benita Smith | Dothan's Y2K Transition Team
Some examples of some of the city programs that had to be changed included the retirement system, personnel and payroll programs and files, street paving, landfill, fleet management, and leisure services programs.
People still ask why would the dates matter or why do field sizes matter? Well, the typical field size for a 2 digit numeric year in the computer at that time was the last two digits of the year. i.e.97,98,99 Oooops! Then 00?!
The computer would take that as the year 1900.
That could easily affect a worker’s years put in at the job (hence retirement consequences), their paycheck, overtime and their timecards, insurance eligibility, health records, etc. The underlying subject of cash flow and how to keep it flowing was of utmost importance.
At the same time, these women were writing a new customized utility billing system for the entire city and participated in many meetings of planning and implementation.
These brainstorm sessions still give the team a chuckle to this day when Smith asks, “What about the century?”
Her foresight made our software a decade ahead of it’s time! The years were hard work but these ladies had a great time doing it and did not realize at that point they were such an important part of our century’s history!
Listen to Teresa's acoustic cover of Prince's "I Would Die 4 U"