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Y2k Millennium Bug

The Millennial sun willfirst rise over human civilization in the independent republic of Kiribati, a group of some thirty low lying coral islands in the Pacific Ocean that straddle the equator and the International Date Line, halfway between Hawaii and Australia. This long awaited sunrise marks the dawn of the year 2000, and quite possibly, the onset of unheralded disruptions in life as we know it in many parts of the globe. Kiribati's 81,000 Micronesians may observe nothing different about this dawn; they only received TV in 1989. However, for those who live in a world that relies on satellites, air, rail and ground transportation, manufacturing plants, electricity, heat, telephones, or TV,
when the calendar clicks from '99 to '00, we will experience a true millennial shift. As the sun moves westward on January 1, 2000, as the date shifts silently within millions of computerized systems, we will begin to experience our computer-dependent world in an entirely new way. We will finally see the extent of the networked and interdependent processes we have created. At the stroke of midnight, the new millennium heralds the greatest challenge to modern society that we have yet to face as a planetary community.
I am describing the year 2000 problem, known as Y2K (K signifying 1000.) Nicknamed atfirst “The Millennial Bug,” increasing sensitivity to the magnitude of the impending crisis has escalated it to “The Millennial Bomb.” The problem begins as a simple technical error. Large mainframe computers more than ten years old were not
programmed to handle a four digit year. Sitting here now, on the threshold of the year 2000, it seems incomprehensible that computer programmers and microchip designers didn’t plan for it. But when these billions of lines of computer code were being written, computer memory was very expensive. Remember when a computer only had 16 kilobytes of RAM? To save storage space, most programmers al…

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