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(Links to documents appear after the summary.)
They tell us that desktop computers won't be affected. They tell us wrong.
There are about 250 million PC's out there. If they run on DOS, they aren't 2000-compliant. If they run on Windows 3x, they aren't 2000-compliant. If they have not had their BIOS chips replaced, they aren't compliant. If they are running any piece of software that is not compliant, they aren't compliant. Think of a spreadsheet that isn't compliant, but which still keeps running . . . wrong.
How many physicians are running DOS-based systems to feed Medicare with patient information? Today, they send this computerized information to the U.S. government's 70 private Medicare contractors, all of whom have been told that they will be fired as soon as the new Medicare computer is up and running. ("But before you go, get our software 2000-compliant." As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up.)
It is law in the United States that all Internal Revenue Service quarterly payments be submitted by computer in the year 2000. What if these PC computers are not compliant? Most of them won't be. (This won't matter, of course, since the IRS's mainframe computer will not be compliant, either.)
What happens to world productivity when 230 million out of 250 million PC's either shut down or start scrambling their programs? What happens to networks? What happens to insurance companies and banks that rely on PC's to input data?
Well, it really won't matter, since all of the banks will have been bankrupted by massive bank runs in 1999, followed by the closing of insurance companies. (If you can't write a check, you can't pay your insurance premiums.) But as a hypothetical question, it's worth asking.
My one hope is that Word Perfect 5.1 for DOS will still run, even though it will date all new and revised files incorrectly. I use WP 5.1. If 5.1 fails, Western Civilization is not worth defending, as far as I'm concerned. (Other categories: "Noncompliant Chips," "Compliance," "Domino Effect.")