LEMONADE: Boeing Says Y2K Work Carried Long-Term Benefits

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http://www.pbs.org/reuters/articles/Y2K2/01_01_2000.reulb-story-bcy2kb oeing.html

SEATTLE, Jan 1 (Reuters) - Boeing Co. said on Saturday its efforts to eliminate Y2K computer bug problems carried long-term benefits by leading to an improvement in its computer systems, better cooperation in the aerospace industry and greater preparedness for any future disaster.

"We have achieved a level of progress and preparedness that probably would not have been achieved if it wasn't for Y2K," Boeing spokesman Bob Jorgensen said.

He said virtually all of the Seattle-based aerospace giant's 200,000 staff were involved in the preparations in some way. "Because everybody was in this we are much more prepared should there be something like a natural disaster or an act of terrorism."

The company said it had a smooth transition into the Year 2000 across its global operations and that none of its customers had reported Y2K problems with Boeing aircraft.

"Our goal was that Jan. 1 would be a non-event and that has been the case," said Jorgensen.

He said Boeing's program to make its computers Y2K compliant meant that it had also been able to strip them of a lot of redundant computer code. "It has given us more storage space for programs -- it is like going through and cleaning out your closet of old stuff, it means you have more room for what you are using."

Jorgensen said there had also been a lot of cooperation within the aerospace industry, even between Boeing and its European rival Airbus Industry, because the Y2K bug was a safety issue.

"There has been a great amount of information sharing by everyone preparing for this Y2K bug," he said. "Safety is not a competitive issue." As the year 2000 arrived around the world, the company had identified half a dozen "low-risk computer viruses," which were soon detected and removed by existing anti-virus software, Jorgensen said.

The process was aided by having almost all the company's 175,000 personal computers switched off because its work force is currently on an annual shutdown between Christmas and New Year, he said. Its operations resume next Monday and Tuesday.

The millennium computer bug is a legacy of a short cut taken by computer programmers in the 1970s and 1980s. To save what was then valuable space, they recorded dates with two digits, like 89 or 97. They realized that this method risked tripping over the two zeros in 2000 but they hoped that new technology would have made these computers obsolete by 2000.

They were wrong and the race was on to fix computer systems around the world. Companies and governments spent between $300 billion and $60

-- David Sunfellow (nhne@nhne.com), January 01, 2000

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