To adequately examine the problems we are having with the Year 2000, we should take a look back at history and the lessons learned nearly 1000 years ago - with problem known as "Y1K".
At first, in Year 0, everyone had problems adapting. The biggest problem it seems was that everyone kept putting "B.C." on their checks instead of "A.D.". Also, around this same era, birthdays are not commonly celebrated, as itis too difficult to do the math (ok, you were born in 4 B.C. It is now 16 A.D. Are you 12 or 20?).
One of the earliest lessons as to the severity of this problem is very well known to history. In the years preceding "YD", or 500 A.D., the Roman Empire was unable to adapt their equipment over to accomodate the addition of the "D" to their system of dates. As a result, in 476 A.D., the Roman Empire fell. Severe consequences from a minor problem.
Y1K or YM
The inability of anyone in Europe to convert their numbers to allow for the date of "M" was as big as failure as that of the Roman Empire nearly 500 years before. This inability to adapt led to a period of "Dark Ages" where barbarism ruled Europe, a trend which would continue for about the next 500 years. At this time, highways fell in to ruin and cities were destroyed.
Since there is not much recorded history that is accurate, we do not know who came up with the solution to save the world from the "YM" bug, but that one individual is solely responsible for the problem that Y2K presents today. You see, the solution to the lack of an "M" was to adapt the Arabic numbering scheme. The Arabic numbering system consisted of 10 digits, and at that time, the date consisted of three digits. The Arabic system could more easily adapt, because they could simply add a "1" and turn the other three digits into "0"s. The Roman system, however, required the creation of a new letter, "M", to represent the date. Thus, anyone using the Roman system would have to retool all of their systems to account for an "M". In the Arabic system, however, you only needed to tool up for 10 digits. No more, no less. Thus, the Arabic system was adopted.
The catastrophic failures that occurred as a result of Y1K were not as widespread, because it was only Y1K in Europe. In Israel, the date was 16 Tevet 4760, so Y1K had occurred 3760 years earlier (maybe we should ask them how they solved the Y2K problem, as they went through it a long time ago). In North America, it was Yucatec: 9 Eb (Grass) and Quiché: 9 Eb (Tooth) (if you were a Mayan) and Nahuatl: 9 Malinalli (Grass) (if you were an Aztec). In China, it was the Year of the Pig .
Thus, it was at this time that we were presented with the problem that leaves us at the point we are today. Only the movie industry, which regularly uses Roman numerals is safe from the Y2K bug. But, this history lesson does allow us to examine the solution to this problem.