Y2K inevitable since a December 1963 decision?

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Here's an article on how Y2K may have become inevitable since a decision made all the way back in 1963. I've read stories about Bob Bemer(?) and the Pentagon's decision to use two digits for the year in the 1960's. This article suggests the die was cast when old programs could be used on new computers.

The title, link and a brief quote:

"Y2K Bug: Don't Blame Original Programmers"


But there was a moment in history when the year 2000 problem might have been avoided. That occurred in December 1963, when International Business Machines Corp., the dominant computer manufacturer, was engaged in a struggle with Honeywell Inc. for the future of business computing.

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), January 15, 1999


It might have all been avoided if some people had gotten their way and years been entered as a single digit. A Y1970 problem would have been trivial compared to what we're up against. Especially since the original source code and programmers would have been around to make fixing things so much simpler.


-- Wildweasel (vtmldm@epix.net), January 15, 1999.

From the IHT article:
But Honeywell, seeing an opportunity to grab IBM customers, introduced a machine that was both cheap and powerful. And unlike System/360, it ran the existing software written for IBM's most popular business computer, the model 1401. That software, written on punched cards, seldom if ever used more than two places to code the year.

Honeywell's new computer, the H-200 began selling well, taking sales away from IBM's existing line of 1401 computers and threatening its future line of computers as well. IBM's response was to develop a special version of its System/360 that ''emulated'' the 1401 - that is, it ran older software and made the new computer behave as if it were an older one. Customers could thus have the best of all worlds: the ability to run software they had already written plus the advantages of the new System/360 architecture.

But if IBM had not developed its S/360 1401 emulation mode, Honeywell would have become the business computer leader. Businesses would still have wound up using a model that ran the 1401 software, two-digit dates and all.

-- No Spam Please (anon@ymous.com), January 15, 1999.

For some of us back then the IBM 1401 was used as an ancillary machine to go card to tape or tape to printer. The IBM 7080 (business version) or the IBM 7090 (scientific version) were the big kahunas.


-- Ray (rayl@whc.net), January 16, 1999.

Yada Yada

Bottom line: It was a Management (pointy-haired boss) decision to continue use of 2-digit years. "Problems won't occur on MY watch!

-- vbprog (vbprog@microsoftsucks.com), January 17, 1999.

(bold off)

-- vbProg (vbProg@microsoftsucks.com), January 17, 1999.

. (bold off)

-- vbProg (vbProg@microsoftsucks.com), January 17, 1999.

What is this?

-- d (d@d.d), January 17, 1999.

How many "unbolds" does it take?

-- vbProg (vbProg@Microsoftsucks.com), January 17, 1999.

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