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1998-04-07 00:00:53


How Old Are You? The Computers Won't Know in 2000



Economist Edward Deak describes the problem.

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If I enter my birth date as 3/17/43 and today's date of 2/17/98, the computer will subtract the former from the latter and tell me that I am 54 years old with a birthday due in one month on St. Patrick's day 3/17/98. But if I ask the computer to tell me how old I will be on 2/17 in the year 2000, it can't supply the right answer. It subtracts 3/17/43 from 2/17/00 and tells me that I am - 43 years of age if it tells me anything at all. Worse still, if this date is used in another file, the result will be either an output using and supplying corrupted data, or the shut down of the computer because of a logical inconsistency. All computer systems including mainframes, minicomputers, desktops and laptops face this date problem. It appears in software, data input routines, and in the binary O's and I's of machine language, Only the most recent programs and computer systems may be exempt. Hence the essential need to go back into the information technology systems to identify and correct for every instance of truncated date entry.


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