Y2K problem

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Y2K problem


Y2K bug:

see Year 2000 problemYear 2000 problem,
 Y2K problem,
or millennium bug,
in computer science, a design flaw in the hardware or software of a computer that caused erroneous results when working with dates beyond Dec. 31, 1999.
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Y2K problem

(Year 2000 problem) The inability of older hardware and software to recognize the century change in a date. The reason they could not was because the year was stored with only two digits; for example, 12-11-42 instead of 12-11-1942. Thus, when 2000 arrived, the date became 01-01-00, and the system thought it was January 1, 1900.

Dates Are Critical
Financial transactions often match dates in database records with today's date or with a future date. If the system does not handle dates correctly, bills do not get paid, notices do not get triggered and actions are not taken. After 2000, any system that could not recognize the change caused erroneous output with applications that dealt with future dates. Although warnings of disaster prevailed, there were only a few incidents when all was said and done.

Fixing It Was a Massive Job
The solution to this "millennium bug" required upgrading hardware to support four-digit years, converting files and databases to four-digit years and converting all the software that referenced dates. Enterprises had a huge amount of legacy data files and thousands of programs that accessed them. With many older applications, the programmers who wrote them were long gone, and documentation was lacking. In many instances, the source code was missing. Even when changes could be made, the time it took to test them was taxing on the IT staff.

Just to Save Two Bytes!

The problem originated with punch cards that go back to the early 1900s. In order to cram an entire order or customer record into a single punch card with typically less than 100 character columns, the year was shortened to two digits. Why waste two columns for "19" when it was going to be "19" for a long time. When punch card systems were converted to magnetic tape in the 1960s, and there was ample room to convert to four digits, laziness prevailed because 2000 seemed very distant. Saving two columns (two bytes) in a punch card was appropriate, but not when there was ample storage on tape. Costs were estimated to be more than USD $600 billion to correct the situation worldwide.

Even Before 2000
Problems occurred before 2000. For example, imagine a company that wanted to delete records for customers who had not purchased anything in five years. The program logic would add 5 years to the date of the last order and compare the result to the current year. Suppose a customer last ordered in 1995 and the current year were 1996. Add 5 to 1995 in a non-Y2K compliant system and the result was 1900, not 2000. Since 1996 was greater than 1900, the customer would be deleted. See data aging and Year 2038 problem.

About Time
This conference headline was from the Software Productivity Group, an organization that provided the necessary training to deal with this sticky subject. (Image courtesy of Software Productivity Group)

Making a Strong Point
Isogon's TICTOC Year 2000 compliance software was used to test IBM mainframe applications for Y2K compliance by setting fictitious dates on a job-by-job basis. See MVS. (Image courtesy of Isogon Corporation, www.isogon.com)

Even Before Y2K
Program maintenance is always a problem in this industry. This commentary from PROCASE Corporation was created more than a decade before Y2K. PROCASE provided software that could flow chart a program from its source code in order to make it understandable.
References in periodicals archive ?
First, regardless of your level of preparation to date, a sound backup plan is still needed to keep facility clinical and business operations functioning in the event of Y2K problems.
It is ironic that these Fortune 500 high-tech companies are suing their property insurers for more than $1 billion to cover the cost of remediating Y2K problems in computer systems that they probably designed and programmed years ago.
The International University of Japan will post an e-mail list on its Web site on Tuesday to help private companies and people working for central and local governments exchange information in the event of Y2K problems, university officials said Thursday.
the Y2K problems or the Century-Date-Change problems.
Banks will take action as they have already reprogrammed their computer systems to cope with the Y2K problem.
We've searched our safety systems and found no Y2K problems," says Kelly Gilligan, a spokeswoman for Connecticut's Northeast Utilities (NU), which operates three nuclear power plants.
Documentation of the steps you've taken to mitigate potential Y2K problems can help serve as a "due care" defense to negligence in a personal injury, malpractice, or other action brought against you.
NLC published "The Year 2000 Problem," a 22-page guide that provides tips on how to fix local government Y2K glitches, and "Y2K in Local Government," a 28-page monograph in NLC's Issues and Options series that provides checklists, examples, and samples of how local governments are solving Y2K problems.
0), which describes, in layman's terms, what the Y2K problem is, what its effects on the PC are (in hardware and software), and the changes that some PCs require in order to achieve compliance.
There is no Y2K problem if the system does not have a real-time clock.
Most people think of the Y2K problem as associated with large computer systems and not with real estate.
Rowley, the State Tax Commission's Director of Information Technology Management, discussed the challenges the commission has faced in addressing the Y2K problem.