BMET Wiki
Advertisement
Y2K

The Y2K bug

About[]

The Year 2000 (Y2K) problem (also known as the Y2K problem, the Y2K bug, or simply Y2K) was a proposed problem for both digital (computer-related) and non-digital documentation and data storage situations which resulted from the practice of abbreviating a four-digit year to two digits.

In computer programs, the practice of representing the year with two digits becomes problematic with logical error(s) arising upon "rollover" from x99 to x00. This has caused some date-related processing to operate incorrectly for dates and times on and after January 1, 2000 and on other critical dates which were billed "event horizons". Without corrective action, it was suggested that long-working systems would break down when the "...97, 98, 99, 00..." ascending numbering assumption suddenly became invalid. Companies and organizations worldwide checked, fixed, and upgraded their computer systems.

While no globally significant computer failures occurred when the clocks rolled over into 2000, preparation for the Y2K problem had a significant effect on the computer industry. There were plenty of Y2K problems, and that none of the glitches caused major incidents is seen as vindication of the Y2K preparation.[1] However, some questioned whether the absence of computer failures was the result of the preparation undertaken or whether the significance of the problem had been overstated.

Many banks have responded to the Y2K problem by forcing full 4-digit year entries on check forms, which helps to prevent the error from occurring in accounting environments.

Background[]

Y2K was the common abbreviation for the year 2000 software problem. The abbreviation combines the letter Y for "year", and k for the SI unit prefix kilo meaning 1000; hence, 2K signifies 2000. It was also named the Millennium Bug because it was associated with the popular (rather than literal) roll-over of the millennium, despite the fact that the problem could have occurred at the end of any ordinary century.

The Year 2000 problem was the subject of the early book, Computers in Crisis by Jerome and Marilyn Murray (Petrocelli, 1984; reissued by McGraw-Hill under the title The Year 2000 Computing Crisis in 1996). The first recorded mention of the Year 2000 Problem on a Usenet newsgroup occurred Saturday, January 19, 1985 by Usenet poster Spencer Bolles.[1]

The acronym Y2K has been attributed to David Eddy, a Massachusetts programmer,[2] in an e-mail sent on June 12, 1995. He later said, "People were calling it CDC (Century Date Change), FADL (Faulty Date Logic) and other names."

Many computer programs stored years with only two digits; for example, 1980 would be stored as 80. Some such programs could not distinguish between the year 2000 and the year 1900. Other programs would try to represent the year 2000 as 19100. This could cause a complete failure and cause date comparisons to produce incorrect results. Some embedded systems, making use of similar date logic, were expected to fail and cause utilities and other crucial infrastructure to fail.

Some warnings of what would happen if nothing were done were particularly dire:

The Y2K problem is the electronic equivalent of the El Niño and there will be nasty surprises around the globe. John Hamre, United States Deputy Secretary of Defense[3]

Special committees were set up by governments to monitor remedial work and contingency planning, particularly by crucial infrastructures such as telecommunications, utilities and the like, to ensure that the most critical services had fixed their own problems and were prepared for problems with others. While some commentators and experts argued that the coverage of the problem largely amounted to scaremongering, it was only the safe passing of the main "event horizon" itself, January 1, 2000, that fully quelled public fears. Some experts who argued that scaremongering was occurring, such as Ross Anderson, Professor of Security Engineering at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, have since claimed that despite sending out hundreds of press releases about research results suggesting that the problem was not likely to be as big a problem as some had suggested, they were largely ignored by the media. Basically, it was a fluke.


Links[]

Wikipedia Article

References[]

Advertisement