I really feel it was a combination. It was dramatically over-hyped, but at the same time that did serve to increase awareness and thus diminish the overall impact, much like the Y2K issue as mentioned.
The article correctly calls it a panic, IMHO.
I think also the virus was much less effective than people realized for a few important reasons:
1. Back then people were a lot less likely to have the internal clock set properly on their computers.
2. When and if the payload would trigger, the virus would eliminate itself. Much like a biological virus, if it kills the host, it ruins its chances for further infections.
Of course I found it amusing that some of the more interesting viruses saw a lot less press. Such as "Casino", which would trash your disk's system area, but it would restore it from a backup in RAM if you could win in the slot-machine game it popped up. That's much more evil and amusing.