Y2K

About Y2K

What's the Y2K Problem?
  1. Most computer operating systems and applications store dates with two digits for the year (99) rather than four (1999).
  2. Virtually every part of our society is interconnected by computer systems. An error in one computer can "infect" other systems with inaccurate information.
  3. There are over 30 billion embedded microchips that control electronic devices. A small percentage of these may be date-sensitive.
  4. Many computer applications fail to recognize the year 2000 as a leap year, and there are other critical dates that could cause problems.

1. Two digit problem

To save memory and keystrokes, many computers and programs were designed to use two digits rather than four to calculate the year element of a date. The century is assumed to be "19". Programs and systems that rely on this assumption will no longer correctly calculate the difference between dates when the century rolls over to the year 2000.

The problem will cause failures in arithmetic, comparisons and sorting when using data involving dates, and can corrupt databases with erroneous information. These types of calculations are common in systems involving administrative information, planning and scheduling, human resources.

2. Large Networks

Computers are everywhere in government, business, utilities, and our jobs. Microprocessors are "embedded" in all kinds of consumer goods we rely on. Businesses are dependent on the exchange of information through computers. When one system fails, there is a cascading effect to other systems.

3. Not just January 1, 2000

The date 01/01/00 isn't the only date that can cause computer problems. For example, 9/9/99 was sometimes used to indicate the end of a file or as a date to indicate "never". This means that some files that were never meant to be deleted may disappear come Sept. 9, 1999.

4. February 29, 2000

The formula to calculate leap years is complicated, and not all computer programmers were aware of the formula when creating programs that use it. The Rule: A leap year occurs on every year that is evenly divisible by four. Unless: If the year is also divisible by 100, it is not a leap year. Unless: (and this is where the problem lies): If the year is evenly divisible by 100 AND by 400, it is a leap year.

For example, 1900 was NOT a leap year because it is divisible by 100. The year 2000 IS a leap year because it is evenly divisible by 100 and by 400.

The leap year problem will not become evidently until 2/29/2000. In computer systems that have not corrected it, the date will generate wrong information for any functions that calculate the day of the week or month.

5. What's the bottom line?

Generally speaking, programmers and public attention have been directed at Y2K for the past several years, so if your system is relatively new, you probably are Y2K ready. However, if you are nervous about it, or would just like to explore more, check out the links and utilities on the other side of this page. Most manufacturers offer Y2K compliance data at their websites and those with problems also generally offer a downloadable "fix" for that problem. We have tried to list as many links/utilities as possible here and will continue adding as we locate them.

Y2K Links

General Links:

Software and Utility Links:

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