All the public offices, banks, airlines, multinational companies, manufacturers, who lay any stress on themselves, have already published that they have taken every possible precautions against the computer technical boom of the millennium, i.e. their own systems, products will perfectly handle the „problem” of the year 2000.The root of the problem proclaimed inescapable was that the computer programs, becoming mass-produced barely a few decades ago, – because of programming with economy of space – left the first two figures out in the program controls based on the date of year, and marked the date by only the decade and the year of the century. Following this the programs wrote the number nineteen automatically in front of the result, so the date was restored. In the course of programming we always have to strive to simplification and to the maximum utilization of the automatic controls. All these are built-in elements of numerous softwares as automatism (e.g. computation of interest, determination of periods, etc.) and as controls (e.g. miscalculations and false invoicing issuing from false typing, etc.). In the year two thousand these programs can interpret the ending „00” as 2000, but can also interpret it as 1900. And it really can occur. A lot of false invoices might be made, false resolutions might be born, and equipment steered by computer programs might stall.I still say that the bluff which has surrounded this matter all over the world for already two-three years is of several billions even in dollars.
In the beginning the „anxious” suppositions were about the software’s and or rather the problems of the programs of individual development. Later they were also „anxious” for us about flying at the millennium, using microwave equipment, investing in the stick exchange, etc. Later I would like to say about that the mass-product manufacturers (e.g. personal computer and their operating systems, etc.) were not careless in creating when creating the controlling software’s even a long time ago.
But the many news of the media quoted such examples which cannot be overlooked. The problem of the controlling software, if comes up at all, can have influence only on programs in which the date has a controlling part. The controlling of the above-mentioned microwave oven and any other home equipment are not in direct connection with the date. Some exceptions might be the preprogrammed switching on and off of some home electrical with the possibility of timing. So the most dangerous problem can be that our VCR does not record the preprogrammed movie. Since the „Paula and Paulina” had ended a few days ago, perhaps it would be endurable. Of course nor this is really probable to happen because our home supplies with digital controlling cannot really be older than ten years, and it is improbable that they did not count upon the millennium when producing these products in the 90’s.
My friends selling computer equipment told me in the last weeks that many institutes and private people were exchanging their equipment, what they had used till now, for new ones in a way that was beyond belief. The most important question at buying is whether the machine can surely handle the Y2K. Of course the answer is yes. In their very own interest neither the dealer not the sales clerks add that the well-known manufacturers (IBM, Hewlett Packard, Acer, Pacard Bell, Toshiba, Compaq etc.) have never manufactured such a PC, for which the change of date would cause a problem. The same is true for all the companies involved in the market of the operating systems. With the barely monopolistic Windows 95’ or 98’ anybody could try at work or at home what would happen at the change of date if the setting of the date of the software is „cheated”. If he is a bit afraid of the risk then he can save his documents stored in the computer before the test. Though I can claim that nobody has such an operating computer, such an usable operating system, for which the change of date causes a problem, but there is a solution contradicting the „absolutely necessary exchange” even if I were wrong. In this case the setting of date of our computer, VCR or any other home equipment shall be cheated one or two years backwards and it will operate just as well as it did in 1999.
The airplanes, trains, power plants, electrical network systems, banks, etc controlled by computer programs could mean a more serious threat. But nor here the crisis is so frightening. On the one hand, also in this case only those software’s or program parts from among the controlling programs could mean a problem, in which the accurate determination of date is a condition of some command. The technology of power production, the registry of ownership of the stocks, the proprietary data of the bank accounts, the administration of the current receivables and remittances (except the interest arrears or the accurate amount of interest claim), the operation of the technical equipment of airplanes logically have no connection with the current date data. For this reason it is quite surely tenable that there are going to be neither smaller nor bigger disturbances in seventeen days.
On the other hand, in traffic systems, power supply, telecommunication, financial supply they work with individual directing and controlling software’s, where the operator’s personal attendance is constant from the starting of the system, as well as it is a security requirement of capital importance to ensure collateral automation and the possibility of manual controlling (intervention). The development of this extremely complicated software’s and their continuous setting to the changing conditions require the constant attendance and highly responsible work of many outstanding experts. It is almost unimaginable that these experts would „forget” the few minute programming work of bringing those algorithms forward which assured the right interpretation of date to the date-dependent commands of these software’s if they had these kind of commands at all. And as for the collateral automation, by putting the date forward it assures the possibility to previously simulate the effects of the change of date.
I cannot even estimate how many billion dollars the world had expended on unnecessary software checking, software development, earlier change of devices, prematurely sorting hardware and programs out which are totally utilizable yet, etc. What I am sure of is that the immense overstating of the actual problem of the change of date in 2000 was one of the biggest businesses in connection with the millennium, and its base was certainly nothing else but a „bluff of several billions” taking advantage of the fact that nowadays it was more and more difficult to always find the real content in the mass of information flooding upon us.
I am also sure of that the change of date will not have any influence on our everyday lives, but in the first months of the next year we will hear a lot of unbelievable stories about that everything around us we do not understand immediately will be understandable only by the mystic reason of the millennium.