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1997-11-10 20:46:20


No Big Problem, Reports Los Angeles Times



This story spends most of its time on the optimists in the y2k field.

But when you get to the end, it sounds pretty bad: top corporate executives in the IT division are quitting, all over the US.

Sadly, the link is dead.

* * * *

Apocalyptic scenarios permeate speeches, news coverage and even casual conversation about the monumental computer glitch. The forecasts are gripping, frightening -- and probably way off.

Ask the experts combing the millions of lines of code that course through the nation's businesses and government agencies. They will tell you that the Year 2000 problem -- the inability of some computers to handle 21st century dates -- is both real and daunting.

But they also will tell you it is awash in hype: Planes will not drop from the sky. Nuclear reactors will not melt down. Financial institutions will not freeze.

"It's going to be a dud," said David Starr, the chief information officer at Readers Digest, and a former technology officer at General Motors, ITT and Citicorp. "The fuse is going to go down to 2000, and were going to wake up and nothing will have happened." . . .

. . . Starr's outlook is shared by others in similar positions at some of the nation's largest companies -- including banks, car makers and utilities -- as well as trade associations, regulatory offices and government agencies.

Confronting presumed disaster, they are calm and collected. Few expect more than minor disruptions for customers and employees. Many say their critical computer systems don't pay attention to the date and are the least susceptible. Most have been working on the Year 2000 problem for years and expect to finish early. . . .

Turnover in top technology posts is at an all-time high. Managers are either retiring early to avoid the Year 2000 crunch or leaping at more lucrative offers from more desperate companies.

Among the 250 largest companies in the United States, 40 percent have replaced their top technology executive this year, said Paul Strassman, an industry researcher who was formerly the top technology official with the Pentagon.


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