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1997-10-01 09:05:52


New Zealand Newspaper: Story on 14-Year-Old Was Overblown


A Christchurch, New Zealand paper, THE PRESS (Sept. 23) belatedly admitted that the story as reported was inaccurate.

This I said from the beginning. But I was flooded with e-mails asking me, "Is this true?" and telling me, "The problem is solved." This story, because it played on the emotions of adults who believe that computers are somehow the domain of whiz kids only, misled millions of people, who will pay dearly for believing it. They will never read this follow-up story.

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His program checks to see if the hardware core -- the bios, or basic input/output system -- of a particular PC model will work properly from the year 2000, and if it will not, a fix is applied so that it will.

Nicholas Johnson's invention, although elagant and clever, solves a very small part of the over-all problem. It is aimed at people with older PCs who do not want to upgrade to a modern PC before 2000. Furthermore it has not yet been fully tested in a commercial setting.

As he said, the program does not attempt to solve the vast problems of applications software, such as accountancy packages which run on old and new PC's and large business computers, but which do not properly handle dates beyond 1999.

After the sudden and unexpected media attention, Nicholas said that people had blown his achievement out of proportion, and that he was now feeling "shell shocked" by the interest. "They've been too excited to listen."

The year 2000 problem will be solved by lots of hard work by many people at all levels of business, as well as many clever programming tools for specific tasks. Nicholas Johnson's program is but one of those tools.

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