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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001036.txt from 1998/03

From: Kenneth Wolman <>
Subj: Re: Uh...wha...?
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1998 13:18:51 -0500

At 10:11 AM 3/19/98 -0500, Scott Morrow wrote:
>So explain to me again exactly what's supposed to happen in 2000 that will
>cause all of our computers to get totally confused?
>How is this different from what happens now? :-)

I'll unlurk for a moment on this one because of where I work, and because
THIS I am partially qualified to discuss.

The Year 2000 Problem will affect PCs, of course, but it will wreak havoc
with mainframes (particularly) and client-server systems. A lot of
programs in mainframes--the kinds of machines that still handle big
accounting and financial packages--were designed in the early 1980s and
nobody ever figured they'd be robust enough to survive this long.
Surprise. The problem is that there are literally trillions of lines of
hard-coded dating built into the programs, and all of it assumes dates like
"19--"--in other words, there is simply no provision in many programs for
what happens as of midnight on 12/31/99.

Implications? In many cases, some people will simply cease to exist as far
as the computer world goes. A date of 1/10/00, for example, will be
interpreted as 1900, not 2000. Lots of people born after 1900 will not get
social security checks or ANY government checks because there will not be a
record of them. Banks will find transactions not being recorded and
international finance could very easily collapse. Musicians will miss
dates because their pocket datebooks got hosed:-).

Potentially, this is a catastrophe of such magnitude that even the people
in my firm who are responsible for resolving it HERE can't grasp the full
impacts. It is too much for most people to handle psychologically. It is
more than likely that the Internal Revenue Service will not be ready.
Before anyone yells WHOOOHOO! like Homer Simpson, consider that a
government that cannot collect revenues cannot function, pay the army
(shiver!), or send out government checks. The potential for anarchy cannot
be laughed away.

I'm not advertising for Morgan Stanley, but we've done a lot of work on
this, and the homepage where the discussions exist are open to the public:

Ken Wolman, technodrone

Kenneth Wolman Information Technology Morgan Stanley Inc.
750 Seventh Avenue New York, NY 212-762-1685
My unpaid life:
"I only wish I could write with both hands, so as not to forget
one thing while I am saying another." -- St. Teresa of Avila

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