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Looks Like We Made It

2000 around the world
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By dawn's early light, CBS News Correspondent Bill Plante reports, it was apparent that the thousands of revelers who came to the big blowout celebration on the National Mall had a good time Friday night. As the park service cleaned up what was left behind, however, the biggest news out of Washington was that the much-feared morning after brought no bad news.

"Major infrastructures systems in the rest of the United States have made an apparent successful transition to the year 2000," Y2K Chief John Koskinen said Saturday. "We are in fact in much better shape today than anybody would have predicted."

That meant that just about everything worked. Across the nation, airliners were flying on course, trains and elevators were operating, and automatic teller machines continued to spit out hard, cold cash. There were only a few isolated minor glitches, such as seven nuclear power plants that reported minor computer problems.

Russian and U.S. missile systems remained firmly under control, but a U.S. reconnaissance satellite did go down for a few hours. Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre explained, "For a short period of time, we were not able to process the information that the satellites were sending, but we're operational now."

The telephone industry reported a higher than usual volume for a New Year's Day. But officials report the higher volume in phone calls has been handled efficiently.

Throughout Friday, government and business officials had taken comfort in early reports that the rest of world was making an easy transition, even in countries like Russia, where Y2K problems were expected.

Older computers and software without a Y2K fix can mistake the year 2000 for 1900. Americans spent an estimated $100 billion on repairs.

"Even though there are some glitches, the news is good both in the United States and around the world," Energy Secretary Bill Richardson declared late Friday as the nation's power grid seemed to fare well.

Here's a look at how sensitive sectors have fared in the changeover to 2000:

Airlines: U.S. officials declared their airlines system working without incident after 7 p.m. ET, the critical milestone of midnight Greenwich Mean Time. The aviation industry uses GMT to track planes as they cross time zones, receive weather information from forecasters and are scheduled for fresh crews and supplies.

Hospitals: Based on similar equipment in Australia and New Zealand, the secretary of health and human services said U.S. hospitals should expect no major problems from the year 2000 changeover. Secretary Donna Shalala said her counterparts in the two countries reported Friday that a few sterilizing machines read the date incorrectly, but they continued to function properly. She said the date glitch was easily fixed.

Space: Commercial satellite providers reported no problems with ground facilities that contain racking and control equipment operating on GMT. Clay Morrie of the Satellite Industry Association, which represents major commercial satellite providers, said the GMT hurdle was the industry's major potential problem area. Orbiting satellites are not dependent on date or time changes.

At NASA, officials said all its spacecraft and facilities remained fully functional after the GMT milestone. Mark Hess, a spokesman for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said: "We're green across the board. No problems at all."

ATMs: ATM networks throughout the country reported no problems with transactions made after 2 p.m. Friday, which normally are posted to the next day -- in this case Jan. 1, 2000. Officials said that means the networks weathered the Y2K turnover without problems.

They remained on guard against higher-than-normal demand for cash or balance inquiries, which could deplete machines of cash and receipt paper and cause them to shut down. Most machines were being checked more often than usual.

Credit cards: Many credit cards already bear expiration dates beyond Jan. 1, 2000, and have been working fine. American Express reported no problems Friday with card use in Asia after the date change there. Credit card companies said customer service telephones were manned continually to handle problems that do come up.

Pentagon: Defense Department computers tied to GMT made the transition to the new year five hours ahead of the rest of the U.S. East Coast, and officials at the Pentagon said they received no reports of Y2K-related problems. Most military computers used for communications, aviation and intelligence functions are linked to GMT.

Energy: Energy Secretary Richardson said America's electricity system passed its first real test Friday night as a third of the power companies' equipment rolled through the Y2K transition without problems. They are the grid computers tied to Greenwich Mean Time, which passed into 2000 five hours ahead of the first U.S. time zone. Grid computers direct communications and transfer of power.

One moderate Y2K glitch was reported in an unidentified Midwestern electric utility company, however: Its internal clocks malfunctioned badly because of Y2K. Power supplies were unaffected.

Three nuclear power plants unexpectedly shut down in South Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania as the New Year approached, but federal officials said Friday the problems were not Y2K-related and the shutdowns were conducted safely.

So is it time to forget about Y2K? Well, not quite. The real test comes on Monday and Tuesday, as the nation goes back to work. Officials are optimistic but cautious -- hoping that the rest of the week goes as well as the weekend. After that, because 2000 is a leap year, they hope the computers will recognize February 29.

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