The year 2000 represents more than just an end to the 1900s. For computers
worldwide, it can mean major problem. When software for many of the business
computers in use today was in development, many programmers tried to save space
by programming computers only to deal with years in the 20th century. Today,
though, many computer users discover problems anytime they are dealing with a
date that falls after the next turn-of-the-century. When calculations involving
the year 2000 or after come up on the computer screen, many computers only read

00 and not know the correct date. They malfunction or fail. “The looming
prospect of disabled computer systems and paralyzed enterprises around the world
makes the year 2000 one of the most critical and universal challenges to ever
face the IT industry,” the magazine Managing Office Technology reported in

December 1997 ( Marcoccio and Matthew, online). Talking of GartnerGroup
research, it added, “While the date change crisis has achieved maximum
awareness, 30 percent of all companies worldwide have not yet started on any

Year 2000 compliancy efforts, and 40 percent have not progressed to a point
where they will be certain not to encounter significant mission-critical
failures by 2000.” Having the most problems are health, care, education,
government agencies and small and medium-sized companies (Marcoccio, online,

1999)Large companies seem to be the farthest along, perhaps because they have
the greatest resources from which to pull money and help. The leading large
company industry is insurance, with financial services trailing just slightly,
and banking behind that. Yet many businesses have been hard at work trying to
update their source code, sometimes by reprogramming and sometimes by replacing
rather than reprogramming software. Sometimes they must replace with a vendor
package, retire the application, or even get rid of the entire business
prospect. Managing Office Technology said that most enterprises expect to repair
at least 40 percent of their applications (Marcoccio and Matthew, online, 1997).

The effort is expected to cost nearly a trillion dollars, and some say there
aren’t enough knowledgeable programmers to fill the demand for these fixes.

Upgrading software has become a booming business, one that some say isn’t
booming enough to meet all the demand. While mainframes may have the biggest
problem, desktops aren’t immune, even if they have been manufactured fairly
recently. PCs manufactured in the past two years have exhibited some

BIOS-related year 2000 problems. These are low-level instructions for the
keyboard, monitor, and disk drives. Craig Luis, computer service manager at

Linfield College in McMinnville, OR, said he just bought a logic board last

November and it wasn’t year 2000 compliant. To cope with this problem some are
buying a millennium bug fix and detection tool as part of a Nuts & Bolts

Deluxe utility suite for PCs (Ung, online, 1998). No individual, company, or
country is immune because many computer programs are inter-linked and because
there aren’t enough engineers and programmers available to deal with it even if
they knew where to look and what to do, according to the paper “The Year

2000 Computer Problem,” put out by Action 2000. Industries in the United

States, Canada, and Australia lead the pack in dealing with the problem, while

Western Europe, South Africa, Japan, and other countries follow. Parts of Asia,
central Africa, central South America, Mexico, Thailand, and other countries are
behind even farther (Marcoccio, online, 1997). To cope with the situation,

Europe has set up Action 2000 to coordinate public sector contingency planning
so that public services such as telecommunications, health services, transport
management systems, social security, and emergency services do not suffer major
disruptions. The European Commission also is concerned because the need for
programmers comes at a time when Europe is trying to change to one currency, and
the workload may be too much for the available manpower to handle. Not only is
there that problem, but the workload overseas has been hampered by extensive
computerized preparations for the introduction of a single currency in 1992 (Bevins,
online, 1998). It’s not just mainframe computers that have the problem. Security
alarms, credit card machines, elevators, and hundreds of other appliances with
computer chips could fail, says U.S. Rep. Stephen Horn (The Year 2000 online,

1997). He says the U.S. government is only 20 percent ready. Although warnings
are very clear, governments are slow to act. While the U.S. Senate has at least
two bills in committee, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3116 in

February. The Examination Parity and Year 2000 Readiness for Financial

Institutions Act requires federal financial regulatory agencies to offer
seminars to financial institutions on the implications of the Year 2000 problem
and tell them how to solve the common problems. It also extends authority to the

Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration to
examine the operations of service corporations or other entities that perform
services under contract for thrifts and credit unions (House, online, 1998)