Y2k







Less than two years until the year 2000. Two seemingly small digits may turn January 1, 2000 from a worldwide celebration into a universal nightmare. With computers mistaking the year 2000 for 1900, virtually all businesses that use dates will be affected. Not only will the companies be affected, but they are paying millions upon millions of dollars in order for computers to recognize the difference between the years 2000 and 1900. The year 2000 computer bug is a huge problem that our world must face. In order to explain how to solve the "millennium bug", it is a good idea to be informed about exactly what the year 2000 problem is. The year 2000 industry expert, Peter de Jager, described the problem quite well. "We programmed computers to store the date in the following format: dd/mm/yy. This only allows 2 digits for the year. January 1, 2000 would be stored as 01/01/00. But the computer will interpret this as January 1, 1900- not 2000" (de Jager 1). The \'19\' is "hard-coded" into computer hardware and software. Since there are only 2 physical spaces for the year in this date format, after \'99\', the only logical choice is to reset the number to \'00\'. The year 2000 problem is unlike any other problem in modern history for several reasons. William Adams points out some of the most important ones. "Time is running out- the Year 2000 is inevitable! The problem will occur simultaneously worldwide, time zones withstanding. It affects all languages and platforms, hardware & software. The demand for solutions will exceed the supply. Survivors will survive big, losers will lose big. There is no \'silver bullet\' that is going to fix things" (Adams 2). "It is too big and too overwhelming even for [Bill Gates and] Microsoft" (Widder 3). Separate, any one of these points makes Y2K, a common abbreviation for the year 2000 problem, an addition to the obstacle. Combined, they form what seems more like a hideous monster than an insignificant bug. The impact of Y2K on society is enormous, bringing the largest companies in the world to their knees, pleading for a fix at nearly any cost. "The modern world has come to depend on information as much as it has on electricity and running water. Fixing the problem is difficult because there are [less than] two years left to correct 40 years of behavior" (de Jager 1). Alan Greenspan has warned that being 99 percent ready isn\'t enough (Widder 2). Chief Economist Edward Yardeni has said that the chances for a worldwide recession to occur because of Y2K are at 40% (Widder 3). Senator Bob Benett (Republican, Utah) made a good analogy about the potential of the problem. "In the 1970\'s, oil was the energy that ran our world economy. Today it runs on the energy of information." He later said, "To cripple the technological flow of information throughout the world is to bring it to a virtual standstill" (Widder 3). The potential of the problem in everyday life is alarming. Imagine making a loan payment in 1999 for a bill that is due in 2000. The company’s computers could interpret the \'00\' as 1900 and you would then be charged with 99 years of late fees (Moffitt & Sandler 48). If the year 2000 problem isn\'t solved, there could be "no air traffic, traffic lights, no lights in your company, companies could not produce goods, no goods delivered to the stores, stores could not send you bills, you could not send bills to anyone else. Business [could] come to a halt" (de Jager 1). The costs of fixing Y2K are staggering. The Gartner Group estimates that costs per line of code to be between $1.50 and $2.00 (Conner 1). It is not uncommon for a single company to have 100,000,000 lines of code (de Jager 6). Capers Jones, an expert who has studied software costs for over ten years, estimates total worldwide costs to be $1,635,000,000,000 (One-trillion, 635 billion dollars) (Jones 58). To put this number into perspective, if five people were to spend $100 for every second of every day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it would take them about 100 years to finish the task! The year 2000