Smith Barney's programmers were attempting to work on y2k. When they ran a test of their repair, their "new, improved" program deposited $19 million into each of the firm's half a million clients.
Now, multiply this by hundreds of thousands of companies. For years.
This appears on Jim Lord's Web site.
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Here is an instructive Y2K story. The item was carried on CNN on June 5, 1997 and involves Smith Barney, the well-known stock brokerage and investment banking firm (two legs of the "three legged stool I mentioned earlier).
"A computer glitch at Smith Barney overnight briefly put $19 million into each of hundreds of thousands of customer accounts, the brokerage said Thursday morning. ...Smith Barney spokesman Gordon Andrew said customers were not affected in any way. At some point overnight, he said, roughly $19 million appeared in separate entries for each Smith Barney financial management account. The brokerage has 525,000 such accounts."
Now, as Paul Harvey would say, "Here's the rest of the story." The computer programmers who fouled this one up were attempting to make Y2K repairs to a database. The changes had been successfully tested off-line, so the crew decided to conduct a live test in conjunction with the firm's main software. The result of the test was an accidental deposit of $19,000,000 into each account. The total error exceeded ten trillion dollars.
We make money the old fashioned way. By accident !