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Inventor’s millennium clocks count days, minutes ‘til Y2K

SHARE Inventor’s millennium clocks count days, minutes ‘til Y2K

Budd Goldman, an inventor in Mineola, N.Y., has earned his living for two decades making doo-dads. "Toilet paper holders that look like the back of cars, masks over shower heads that looked like celebrities, a little black box that you pushed it and it cursed," Goldman said, describing a few of his greatest hits.

But now comes, at the end of the 20th century, what Goldman considers his crowning achievement: the Millennium Clock. "I've been practicing to get to this one," he said.The desktop clock is a relentless reminder of the remaining days, hours, minutes and seconds until the arrival of Jan. 1, 2000 - as determined by the time zone of the person who sets it.

Goldman said the idea came to him in 1986, as he walked down a street in Seoul, South Korea. "There were billboards counting down to the Olympics," he said. "The idea germinated, and I decided to make a small version of a countdown clock," which would use an LCD display to count the days until an impending milestone, like a birthday or an anniversary. But the idea flopped.

"I didn't sell any," he said. "Zippo."

Fast-forward a decade to 1996, just as millennium fever was starting to infuse the country. "I was on the corner of 34th and Seventh and there was this billboard from a restaurant saying, `We'll be feeding customers into the new millennium."' he said. "The light bulb went off."