sandermarijn is correct, the 17-40 was introduced first time in 2003 (May)

Are you sure you are not talking about the 17-35 Poisson Du Jour? That lens was introduced in 1996...

Anyway, it's a great lens and the "digital adjustments" that were made, was that the coating was altered to reduce reflections from the sensor back trough the lens, it doesn't matter for film use. (I use it a lot with landscapes and Velvia on my Canon 1V).
M. Lointain, looks like you got a dud, the 17-40 is only surpassed by the 16-35 F2.8 L II, the corners on mine are sharp, both on my film body and on my 1ds mk II, no visible diffraction even down to f16 on either camera.