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1997-12-29 18:48:51


You Can't Overestimate Y2K's Effects



This CHICAGO TRIBUNE story (Dec. 19) quotes a retired COBOL programmewr. He thinks y2k will create havoc.

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"Forget technical systems. Forget the technological impact. I want to say flat-out that you can't overestimate what Y2K will do to the way we live on a daily basis," said George Hawkins, a 66-year-old COBOL programmer who has been following computer culture since the Digital PDP-6 was the standard. A self-professed critic of Year 2000 complacency, Hawkins has emerged from retirement to fight the millennium bug.

"There's a dance of denial that won't end," he said. "It's almost 1998, and just last week USA Today ran an explainer piece teaching its readers what the Y2K problem is. The audience for USA Today is executives on the road; if they don't know what this is, we're doomed. Yes, there will be a recession, maybe even a bigger one than Yardeni is predicting. Many people will be forced to leave jobs very quickly. They'll say it was unexpected, but we know now it will happen. You're looking at major unrest. And it's anyone's guess whether all this will lead to a 1929-like nose dive for stocks, that is if the computers that run the New York Stock Exchange are still working."


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