Now it's the 1900 bug!greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
ISSUE 1674 Sunday 26 December 1999
Revealed: now it's the '1900 bug' By Macer Hall
THE race to ensure that information technology can survive the Millennium Bug has produced an unexpected glitch - now computers cannot recognise the year 1900.
While the problem will not cause the chaos expected from the bug itself, it is playing havoc with historical archives in libraries, museums, local authorities and other institutions.
And some who will be 100 in the year 2000 may have to wait a bit longer than usual for the birthday telegram from the Queen because birth records from 100 years ago are getting lost. Like the original bug, the problem lies in the fact that many computers read year dates as two digits rather than four.
However, the cure for the Millennium Bug has proved to be the start of a new problem. Staff in the social services at Bedfordshire county council were among those to come across the 1900 bug when attempting to track down any 100-year-olds in council care.
One employee told The Telegraph: "When we went to find out if we had any people celebrating their 100th birthday in the year 2000, we couldn't access any information. The problem was that our computers were now year 2000-compatible, so they thought 1900 was actually 2000."
A council spokesman said: "We did have this problem with our computers but we have now taken steps to correct this." The Government has spent #20 million on a publicity campaign urging business to be aware of the dangers of the Millennium Bug.
However, Action 2000, the organisation set up to make sure that computers were being updated for the new century, admitted a number of councils and firms had experienced the 1900 problem. In one case logged by Action 2000, a 102-year-old woman was invited to join a local nursery school because a local authority computer was baffled by a 19th-century birthdate.
Tony Stock, the operations director of Action 2000, said: "A few examples of this type have been encountered. It's obviously disappointing when a particular system has not dealt thoroughly with this.
"Making an adjustment to deal with the 21st century should have been done in such a way that one could still deal with the 19th century. The lesson here is that looking forward is part of the story but you do need to look back as well. Thorough preparation and thorough testing of systems will normally have dealt with all the dates that people need to record.
"Generally, the work has been done very thoroughly but there are always small problems with information systems, whether it's at Millennium time or not. There is no widespread evidence of this sort of thing happening, so we wouldn't expect the public to be too concerned."
-- Old Git (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 26, 1999
-- getting ready (email@example.com), December 26, 1999.