Y2K problem
n. A computer bug that, if not fixed, will cause computers and devices with embedded microchips to fail or produce erroneous results beginning on January 1, 2000.
For those still harried by the thought of widespread computer failure around January 2000, one technology expert offers this simple solution: print out paper copies. Jim Woodward, who boasts the title of Senior Vice President of TransMillennium Services at Cap Gemini America, encourages consumers to stay on top of the Y2K problem by keeping hard copies of financial records and comparing them with statements sent out once the year 2000 has clicked over.
—“Whistle-blowers to catch Year 2000 firms,” The Irish Times, January 05, 1998
Deutsche Morgan Grenfell chief economist Edward Yardeni told a Senate hearing last month that the ripple effects of Y2K problems around the world have increased the likelihood of a worldwide recession to 40 percent in the year 2000. "It is a very serious threat to the U.S. economy," Yardeni said.
—Pat Widder, “Year 2000 problem could be a global glitch,” The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey), December 15, 1997
1996 (earliest)
If we're serious about fixing the Y2K problem, we need to address this as a business/management problem, not a technical problem.
—Bear Giles, “Re: bleep-year,” The Risks Digest, March 12, 1996
It's estimated that to fix the Y2K problem will cost businesses about US$600 billion over the next few years. Why all the fuss over what appears to be a simple date change? Many older software programs — especially mainframe-based applications used in banking, insurance, and government — store dates using two-digit numbers for the day, month, and year (e.g., MMDDYY). That's fine for the day and month, but a two-digit year means that 1999 is stored as 99 and 2000 is stored as 00. So January 1, 2000 will appear to the computer as January 1, 1900, and suddenly you'll be *very* late with your mortgage or loan payments! Fixing this problem requires hiring large teams of programmers to comb every one of the sometimes millions of lines of code in these legacy systems to discover where dates are used, and then to rewrite the code and restructure the underlying databases to handle four-digit years.