Recovered from Archive.org – Apr 18, 1997
Funny and news at the same time.
We all live our lives in cycles. We wake up in the morning, work and play all day and go to sleep at night. We count on that as we experience each minute, day, week, year and century. Umm wait. No strike that last one. We do not count on the centuries. In fact, we totally ignore them.
We are about to enter a new century, in fact a new millennium. The sad part is that we are completely unprepared. It’s funny actually. Listen to this:
For millions of years, no one bothered to write anything down. We hunted and gathered and killed each other for very good reasons. Sometime later the pen and the paper found their way together and conceived the written word. A lovely child. The printing press gave the first mechanical arm to this child. Bibles were printed a plenty. (Good thing illiteracy outnumbered the prints.) This went on with incremental changes until…
The latter half of the twentieth century spawned that demon of demons, that angel of death in sheep’s clothing…Yes, it’s the One, the Only! The Computer!
The computer aided filing, storing, retrieving and manipulating the written word in ways near impossible by hand. Programs were made for prestigious firms tallying every record in every archive for quick and easy access. Each record was kept in files according to date. Quick!, stop reading, what’s your birthday? Mine is 5-22-72.
That’s right. The entire world uses this method of tracking dates. Social Security, The DMV, your insurance carrier, the baby bells, Everyone. We all use the mm-dd-yy system of keeping track of years. And so do all of the computers. Thats the problem.
When the clock strikes 12:01am, January 1, 2000, half the world’s computers will read January 1, 1900. It will take approximately 600 billion dollars world wide to update software to avoid the year 2000 dilemma. The good news is, we have 3.5 years. The bad news is, Corporate America works slow.
So here lies the question? Who to blame for this problem? Do we blame the programmers for sacrificing the future for a slight speed improvement in the dating system? Or the product managers who interfaced with the techie whizkids and forgot to mention that the system might be around for 10-20 years? I prefer to blame the demon itself.
None of this would be happening if not for that Damn Computer!