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Year 2000 deleted!

You may be planning a major party for New Year's in the year 2000. But computer experts are dreading the new century. That's because January 1, 2000, will set the clocks and calendars askew in many of the world's computers.

Most computers keep track of the date by using a two-digit system. A computer records January 1, 1997, as 01/01/97. But on January 1, 2000, many computers will display 01/01/00. Is that January 1, 2000, or January 1, 1900? That simple question will jumble the date-related records in some 80 million computers -- 80 percent of the world's PCs, says computer expert Peter de Jager.

Say the phone company sends out bills due on 01/02/00, but the computer thinks "00" means 1900. Your phone payment will be overdue by 100 years! The Phone company might even disconnect your phone!

Plain subtraction will also make waves. Say you were born in 1981. If you try to get a driver's license today, the motor-vehicle department computer would calculate your age by subtracting 81 from 97 and announce that you're 16. But in the year 2000, the computer would subtract 81 from 00. At -81, you're not even born yet, so how can you drive?

Major corporations will have to spend up to $300 billion to fix all their date-dependent software. A computer expert will have to analyze millions of lines of coded programming to find the date "command" to fix in thousands of Programs. That could take hundreds of hours.

The good news: You can easily fix your home computer free of charge, because its "internal clock" programming is much simpler.

First check to see if your computer was built before 1996. (Computers built since then have already been corrected.) Then run the test at hot to check if your computer has a date-change problem. If it does, visit this Web site: Click on "PC BIOS patch" and download the program to reset the date. Then surf ahead to the 21st century ... worry free!
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Title Annotation:year 2000 date change problem in computers
Author:Stiefel, Chana Freiman
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 10, 1997
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