Effects of the Year 2000 Problem

Mr. dork
English 10
20 November 1998

Almost everything in the world is recorded or run by computer. Electricity, communications, medicine, weapons, money, food, factories and just about anything else you can think of will be effected by the year 2000 problem. The year 2000 problem could be the biggest technological problem the world may ever face. Some people are preparing for world wide crisis. Others believe some lucky person will invent a small disc that will eliminate the problem in less time that it takes a person to pop the disk in their computer. Either way the world is spending billions of dollars trying to prepare and solve the problem, and so far nobodyís been able to come across an exact solution.
What is the Year 2000 Problem?
The Year 2000 problem is more commonly referred to as the Y2K problem or the Millennium bug. The Y2K problem has to deal with how computers keep track of the date. In almost every system before 1995 the date that the computer kept was abbreviated. An example would be that 1951 would be abbreviated as 51. So, as a result, computers will read 00 and think itís 1900 and not 2000. This seemingly small problem will result in a loss of most records and information kept in computers causing a major headache for government agencies and major businesses, not to mention all
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home owners and other people. Gina Smith writes in a August 1998 issue of Popular Science about the fixing of the problem
"You are probably wondering why the problem is so hart to fix. It isnít Itís just that thereís so much to be fixed. Updating software to handle the new century is sometimes a matter of culling through millions of lines of code, and the finding and fixing every two-digit date reference. One mistake and the entire operation may be unsuccessful" (Smith 26).
What can the Y2K prblem effect?
On the home front people could be waking up to chaos. In June 1998, PC Computing featured an article where John C. Dvorak shares his thoughts of what might happen on 1 January 1998. He writes:
"The situation will not be easily corrected and many believe it will collapse the economy. This will be worsened by municipal systems that will cut off peopleís gas, light, and water since they havenít paid their bill for 100 years. . .all the new car computer that monitor engines with real-time computer system have date stamping that will fail at midnight, making it impossible to start the car" (Dvorak 49).
Anyone who lives in a cold climate wonít appreciate not having any heat during one of the coldest months of the year. Dvorak continues to go in depth in how the first problems will create a domino effect and eventually lead to the fall of the economy:
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"As computer scheduling fails, the food distribution system will fall apart. The homeless will flock to the farmlands looking for food only to be butchered as trespassers, their bodies left to rot. Carrion will abound. Disease will spread from the rotting corpses and be transferred to by packs of wild dogs. . . ." (Dvorak 49)
In January 1997, PC Computing estimates that "10% of all businesses wont survive the transition"(Lyon 50). Because of the shutdown of businesses, many people can expect to be out of a job come the first of January. If people wake up and find themselves out of a job they may be prepared with a savings to fall back on. Having an account in a bank could mean more trouble. "Because bank computers are linked through enormous networks, a breakdown anywhere in the system could adversely affect hundreds of institutions around the world"(Consumer Reports 56). Itís possible banks could loose all records of customers accounts and going to the bank to get money would be a joke.
The Department of Defense could put the security of itís citizens in jeopardy. Nuclear weapons could accidentally be set off killing millions of people. Radar and other computer systems might fail causing out defense system to be unaware of possible attack. In a 13 September 1997 issue of Science News Janet Raloff states:
"Recently, the Defense Department got a taste of what Headaches lie in store, when a faulty year 2000-related date calculation inappropriately