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Year 2000 problem

The meaning of «year 2000 problem»

The Year 2000 problem, also known as the Y2K problem, Millennium bug, Y2K bug, Y2K glitch or Y2K error, refers to potential computer errors related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates in and after the year 2000. Many programs represented four-digit years with only the final two digits, making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900. Computer systems' inability to distinguish dates correctly could potentially bring down worldwide infrastructures for industries ranging from banking to air travel.

In the years leading up to the turn of the century, the public gradually became aware of the "Y2K scare," and individual companies predicted the global damage caused by the bug would require anything between $400 million and $600 billion to rectify.[1] A lack of clarity regarding the potential dangers of the bug led some to stock up on food, water, and arms, purchase backup generators, and withdraw large sums of money in anticipation of a computer-induced apocalypse.[2]

Contrary to public expectations, few major errors actually occurred in 2000, primarily due to the pre-emptive action of many computer programmers and information technology experts. Companies and organizations in some countries, but not all, had checked, fixed, and upgraded their computer systems to address the problem.[3][4] Then-U.S. president Bill Clinton, who organized efforts to minimize the damage in the United States, labeled Y2K as "the first challenge of the 21st century successfully met,"[5] and retrospectives on the event typically commend the programmers who worked to avert the anticipated disaster.

Y2K is a numeronym and was the common abbreviation for the year 2000 software problem. The abbreviation combines the letter Y for "year", the number 2 and a capitalized version of k for the SI unit prefix kilo meaning 1000; hence, 2K signifies 2000. It was also named the "Millennium Bug" because it was associated with the popular (rather than literal) rollover of the millennium, even though most of the problems could have occurred at the end of any century.

Computerworld's 1993 three-page "Doomsday 2000" article by Peter de Jager was called "the information-age equivalent of the midnight ride of Paul Revere" by The New York Times.[6][7][8]

The Year 2000 problem was the subject of the early book Computers in Crisis by Jerome and Marilyn Murray (Petrocelli, 1984; reissued by McGraw-Hill under the title The Year 2000 Computing Crisis in 1996). The first recorded mention of the Year 2000 Problem on a Usenet newsgroup occurred on 18 January 1985 by poster Spencer Bolles.[9]

The acronym Y2K has been attributed to Massachusetts programmer David Eddy[10] in an e-mail sent on 12 June 1995. He later said, "People were calling it CDC (Century Date Change), FADL (Faulty Date Logic). There were other contenders. Y2K just came off my fingertips."[11]

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