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1997-10-27 14:03:34


PARADE Magazine's Article


On October 26, the Sunday newspaper insert PARADE ran this in the question and answer column by Marilyn Savant. She supposedly has the highest IQ of anyone on earth. That this appeared in print in a mainstream magazine is significant. It is like water leaking in a dike. Leak by leak, the story will get out. Eventually, there will be a moment of truth, and the panic will begin.

Be out of the way when it does.

* * * * * * *

I keep hearing about a malfunction in computers that will occur in the year 2000. What is this all about?

Oh, this is such an incredible mess. The fallout from the problem is projected to range from a headache for a multitude of organizations -- private and public -- to a massive disruption of everyday life. The truth is probably somewhere in between, depending on how much money and manpower is spent on prevention before the magic date: 01/01/00 - meaning Jan 1, 2000, not Jan 1, 1900.

. . . there is no technological fix that works for a large number of programs, which have become highly customized over time and often were built with computer language that is now so obsolete that few people even know how to work with it. As a result, every date-sensitive system must be opened individually and operated upon by a skilled electronic surgeon. Old-style programers are even coming out of retirement to help.

This is no minor concern. Such elaborate computer systems run everything from hospital life-support systems to air-traffic control to the military's secret weapons programs. So the day after the world's biggest New Year's Eve party on 12/31/99 may be even more interesting that the one before it. When you get back home on 01/01/00, your lights may not go on, or the hands on your clocks may be spinning from the wrong power frequency. Your automated teller machine may not work, because your bank thinks your ATM card expired back when Queen Victoria did. You neighborhood traffic lights may give you mixed messages. Expect anything from calm to calamity."

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