Year 2000 And Computers

The year 2000 represents more than just an end to the 1900s.

For computersworldwide, it can mean major problem. When software for many of the businesscomputers in use today was in development, many programmers tried to save spaceby programming computers only to deal with years in the 20th century. Today,though, many computer users discover problems anytime they are dealing with adate that falls after the next turn-of-the-century. When calculations involvingthe year 2000 or after come up on the computer screen, many computers only read00 and not know the correct date. They malfunction or fail. “The loomingprospect of disabled computer systems and paralyzed enterprises around the worldmakes the year 2000 one of the most critical and universal challenges to everface the IT industry,” the magazine Managing Office Technology reported inDecember 1997 ( Marcoccio and Matthew, online).

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Talking of GartnerGroupresearch, it added, “While the date change crisis has achieved maximumawareness, 30 percent of all companies worldwide have not yet started on anyYear 2000 compliancy efforts, and 40 percent have not progressed to a pointwhere they will be certain not to encounter significant mission-criticalfailures by 2000.” Having the most problems are health, care, education,government agencies and small and medium-sized companies (Marcoccio, online,1999)Large companies seem to be the farthest along, perhaps because they havethe greatest resources from which to pull money and help. The leading largecompany industry is insurance, with financial services trailing just slightly,and banking behind that. Yet many businesses have been hard at work trying toupdate their source code, sometimes by reprogramming and sometimes by replacingrather than reprogramming software. Sometimes they must replace with a vendorpackage, retire the application, or even get rid of the entire businessprospect.

Managing Office Technology said that most enterprises expect to repairat least 40 percent of their applications (Marcoccio and Matthew, online, 1997).The effort is expected to cost nearly a trillion dollars, and some say therearen’t enough knowledgeable programmers to fill the demand for these fixes.Upgrading software has become a booming business, one that some say isn’tbooming enough to meet all the demand. While mainframes may have the biggestproblem, desktops aren’t immune, even if they have been manufactured fairlyrecently. PCs manufactured in the past two years have exhibited someBIOS-related year 2000 problems. These are low-level instructions for thekeyboard, monitor, and disk drives. Craig Luis, computer service manager atLinfield College in McMinnville, OR, said he just bought a logic board lastNovember and it wasn’t year 2000 compliant.

To cope with this problem some arebuying a millennium bug fix and detection tool as part of a Nuts & BoltsDeluxe utility suite for PCs (Ung, online, 1998). No individual, company, orcountry is immune because many computer programs are inter-linked and becausethere aren’t enough engineers and programmers available to deal with it even ifthey knew where to look and what to do, according to the paper “The Year2000 Computer Problem,” put out by Action 2000. Industries in the UnitedStates, Canada, and Australia lead the pack in dealing with the problem, whileWestern Europe, South Africa, Japan, and other countries follow. Parts of Asia,central Africa, central South America, Mexico, Thailand, and other countries arebehind even farther (Marcoccio, online, 1997). To cope with the situation,Europe has set up Action 2000 to coordinate public sector contingency planningso that public services such as telecommunications, health services, transportmanagement systems, social security, and emergency services do not suffer majordisruptions.

The European Commission also is concerned because the need forprogrammers comes at a time when Europe is trying to change to one currency, andthe workload may be too much for the available manpower to handle. Not only isthere that problem, but the workload overseas has been hampered by extensivecomputerized preparations for the introduction of a single currency in 1992 (Bevins,online, 1998). It’s not just mainframe computers that have the problem. Securityalarms, credit card machines, elevators, and hundreds of other appliances withcomputer chips could fail, says U.

S. Rep. Stephen Horn (The Year 2000 online,1997).

He says the U.S. government is only 20 percent ready. Although warningsare very clear, governments are slow to act. While the U.S. Senate has at leasttwo bills in committee, the U.

S. House of Representatives passed H.R.

3116 inFebruary. The Examination Parity and Year 2000 Readiness for FinancialInstitutions Act requires federal financial regulatory agencies to offerseminars to financial institutions on the implications of the Year 2000 problemand tell them how to solve the common problems. It also extends authority to theOffice of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration toexamine the operations of service corporations or other entities that performservices under contract for thrifts and credit unions (House, online, 1998)Computers