This story from the KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL (Sept. 21) reports on the problem of noncompliant embedded chips. They are buried in millions of systems, any of which may fail in 2000. The Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) is very concerned about this.
So should your community. So should you.
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''It's a worldwide industry problem,'' said Ed Medford, KUB's manager of information services.
Medford told KUB's board last week that KUB computer systems managers must reprogram and prepare systems now to preclude KUB's highly-computerized electrical, gas and water service systems from turning into a technological pumpkin at midnight on the first day of 2000.
Medford said heavy 1980s reliance on embedded silicon microchips for storing dates and other data has left many businesses, including KUB and other utilities, vulnerable to ''far-reaching'' adverse effects if computer systems cannot comprehend year codes for 2000.
Predictions, he said, are that 2 to 4 percent of computers with embedded microchips -- perhaps 2 million devices -- could fail, adversely affecting everything from telephone systems and fax machines to military messaging systems, automatic lawn sprinklers and medical pacemaker devices.
Not only does KUB maintain an array of service and other dates on each of its 163,000 customers, Medford said, but all personnel and systems maintenance data is also keyed to computers that track data using two-digit year indicator.