The New York Times printed an excellent op-ed by Denis Dutton, a philosophy professor in New Zealand:
Click the picture for more Y2K fear propaganda.
His detailed memories about the Y2K problem would be kind of amazing if I didn't remember they were really told by influential sources all the time. While 1999 - with its booming economy and subdued terrorism - should have been viewed as the ultimate happy year, journalists, pop-scientists, and the rest of pundits loved the Y2K meme.
The end of the world was coming once again. The elevators, cars, airplanes, banks etc. would crash, we were told. About 300 billion U.S. dollars were wasted for this "problem".
Of course, nothing happened. The first countries entering the 2000s such as New Zealand celebrated their great investments to avoid the looming catastrophe. Except that in countries that spent almost nothing, such as South Korea (or Ukraine), nothing worth noticing happened, either. ;-)
This is just a joke. He didn't need an Apple.
The Y2K problem also had its deniers. The most prominent Y2K denier, Bill Gates, even dared to criticize the prophets for spreading the fear! Contemplate about his cosmic blasphemy. ;-)
The Y2K problem fits into a long sequence of stories spread by the people who are simply fascinated with the global cataclysm: Nostradamus, asteroids, aliens, weapons of mass destruction, bird flu, swine flu, you name it. Today, the loudest one is global warming. The hysteria in the media exceeds that of the Y2K problem by one or two orders of magnitude. So one shouldn't be shocked that instead of 300 billion dollars, people are expected to spend proportionally more money, namely trillions or tens of trillions of dollars.
Of course, it's no longer a story about the religious instincts only. Many people also have very rational, egotistic reasons to help the alarm. But that's a different story.