As the clock ticked down to the year 2000, computer scientists around the world were fretting about the so-called “Y2K bug,” which many feared would wreak havoc on our heavily computerized society. In the late 1990s, a computer program created by Rex Widmer, a computer science graduate in 1972, put many minds at ease. Widmer’s Portfolio Analyzer could quickly and efficiently locate lines of code that needed to be changed before the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2000. The program could “munch through 100,000 programs – perhaps millions of lines of code – in a day,” he said in a 1998 interview. Unfortunately, Widmer never lived to see the success of his software. He died in a car accident in January 1999 while returning home to Shawnee Mission, Kansas, from a campus visit.

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