40 THE POWER OF POSSIBILITY NISC | 50 YEARS OF INNOVATION AND MEMBER SERVICE Y2K AND BEYOND, NISC STANDS THE TEST OF TIME On December 31, 1999, groups of employees of NCDC and CADP gathered in conference rooms with cold cuts and soda and waited for the earth to move. The dawn of the new millennium carried some cause for concern. For years, computer experts had fretted about massive amounts of legacy software code that needed updating from the two-digit method of recording dates. Without a change, the computers would interpret 00 as 1900 instead of 2000 — a backward lurch that could confound systems. For the soon-to-be-merged companies of NISC, the moment known globally as Y2K was a high-profile exercise of their adaptability. Just as NISC does today, they constantly upgraded software to respond to regulatory and operational changes in the telecom and electric utility industries. The march of time brought the first true test of their respective updated systems on September 9, 1999. Some tech watchers worried that computers would interpret the date 9/9/99 as the end of a file, which was a shut-down sequence in some older programs. But September passed without an issue. Meanwhile, utilities assured their customers that the electric grid and telecommunications systems would still function after midnight of the millennium, and their billing would stay on track. NCDC, CADP and their Members literally set their computer clocks ahead to test and show that the software was Y2K ready. The mood in St. Louis and Mandan was more celebratory than worried on New Year’s Eve. Midnight passed uneventfully in Australia, Japan and other Pacific Rim countries. It came and went in Europe with only minor glitches. Companies on the East Coast also fared well. Then employees toasted the New Year in St. Louis and Mandan and waited until the end of Y2K’s time zone advance with what Principal Software Engineer Kelley Kunnanz recalls as “a lot of hype and a lot of fizzle.” They were ready to answer calls from Members with problems — but the phones never rang. “It was pretty much uneventful, just the way it was supposed to be,” says Sr. Manager of Professional Services Keith Horntvedt. Other time-related problems have occurred since then, with much less notice. In 2015 and 2016, the atomic clock and the earth’s rotation became slightly out of sync. NISC provided software updates and guidance, and once again the world moved uneventfully into the future. (Left to right) CADP staff Mark Meadows, Don Hilgert and others wait to respond to Member support needs at Y2K as the new millennium approaches.