The millennium at Christmas

Private Eye’s millennium bug cartoon cover

‘Oh No! It’s the Millennium Bug!’ is the plaintiff cry from Father Christmas as his sledge plunges earthwards towards London’s Millennium Dome. That was cartoonist Nick Newman’s take for Private Eye on the software peril that the computer industry feared could bring the world to a halt at the start of 2000.

It may seem ridiculous now, but the worry was that there was a lot of software around that had not been written ever expecting to reach the end of the century, and so it was expecting all dates to begin with the numerals 19. Millions were spent searching for the bug, but in the end the catastrophe never came to pass.

Notice that the issue covers the two week-period over Christmas and New Year – a common strategy for weeklies, including Radio Times, the Economist and the Spectator.

Newman knew Private Eye editor Ian Hislop at school and university, and has supplied cartoons to the satirical fortnightly since 1981. He is also a pocket cartoonist for The Sunday Times. ‘Oh No! It’s the Millennium Bug!’ is for sale at the Chris Beetles Gallery.

This is the tenth of 12 Christmas covers in a magazine version of ye olde English counting song The Twelve Days of Christmas.

There was also a selection of covers for Christmas 2019.

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