Y2k Essay Research Paper Y2K CRISIS On

Y2k Essay, Research Paper


On January 1, 1999, the Year 2000 computer crisis will

begin. On January 1, 2000, there is a good possibility computers

around the world will crash, freezing systems for hours, days,

weeks, months or even years. The public just does not seem to

understand the gravity of this situation. Consider these actual

events: In November 1996, Mike Yarsike, who owns a gourmet food

market in Warren, Michigan ran a customer’s credit card through

his machine. Ten computerized cash registers in the store locked

shut for four hours; fifteen months later, the system was still

experiencing glitches. The credit card has an expiration date in

the year 2000. An appointment clerk in a medical organization

attempted to make an appointment for a patient for January 2000,

the entire computer network that serves 75 clinics and three

hospitals shut down for hours with continuing problems. These

kinds of computer glitches, called ’sightings,’ interrupt the

normal flow of business and are occurring throughout the world

whenever the date being entered is 2000 or beyond. There are

millions of computer software programs that cannot read any dates

beyond 1999 and experts in the field have finally realized that

not even Microsoft can offer a simple one-shot solution. Instead,

there are now legions of programmers across the world correcting

the problem, line by tedious line at enormous costs to both

governments and companies (Rock and Reynolds, 1998).

The Year 2000 Computer Bug, also known as the Millennium Bug

and as the Y2K bug sounds absurd but it is real and it could

cause mayhem in the world. Most computer programs have a

two-digit date field, thus when the year 1998 is keyed in, the

computer reads only “97.” When the year 2000 arrives, it will

register in the computer program as “00,” and it will translate

that to 1900, not 2000 (Bordwin, 1998). The two-digit format,

originally intended to save time and space on the program leaves

the computer unable to distinguish between 2000 and 1900 or 2001

and 1901. The ambiguity can cause the system or application

program that uses dates to perform calculations comparisons, or

sorting to generate incorrect results. Errors could occur in

calculating truth-in-lending/savings disclosures, calculating

interest, or determining amortization schedules. Automated teller

machines might assume that any bank card with the year 2000 on it

is expired. These kinds of errors may well expose the financial

institution to financial liability. Credit unions interface with

numerous other computer systems that belong to payment centers,

wire transfer systems, automated clearing houses, check clearing

houses, credit card merchants, automated teller machine networks,

electronic data exchange systems and more. These other systems

increase the vulnerability of the credit unions; they can

incorporate errors into the credit union’s records and systems

(MountJoy, 1998).

These are not the only institutions that will be affected.

Telephone systems may shut down as will security and alarm

systems, fax machines, elevators and even electricity. Anything

that is connected to a computer, that depends on a computer is

vulnerable (MountJoy, 1998). The general public, the average

person is for the most part unaware of the devastating results

that are possible due to the Year 2000 problem.

Experts say this will cause computers to crash and/or to

create a variety of problems, such as including bogus data or

nonsensical results in the program or records. The result could

be, and in fact, is likely to be, erroneous data for an

individual’s stock portfolio, bank accounts, social security

checks, in fact, the financial institution could lose all records

of individual members. It could also mean loss of power, loss of

all services that we take for granted in our normal everyday

lives. The potential and probable problems are so vast that books

have been written about it and dozens of Internet sites exist

that give information about how to protect yourself. For those

companies who have not yet begun to correct the problem, it is

already too late. There is not enough time now nor are there

enough trained professionals to check millions or billions of

lines of computer code to identify and correct the problem. The

results are legal issues, management problems and safety problems

(Bordwin, 1998).

Legal suits have already been filed because of the problem.

In June 1997, a supermarket operator filed suit against the

manufacturer of its computer system and the company that sold

them the system. The computer could not process credit cards with

an expiration date in 2000 or beyond. The store lost customers.

In November 1997, Dutch airline KLM issued a warning: it may

ground some aircraft on January 1, 2000 if certain routes are

found to be unsafe because of Y2K bugs. A spokesman said that KLM

has a complex web of interlinking computer systems that includes

radar and air-traffic control systems. A computer glitch could

cause a plane crash, a collision. Both Lufthansa and Northwest

have also issued the same alert. This brings up two significant

problems: first, safety and second, canceled flights leave

travelers stranded and disrupt business or economics. (Bordwin,


There are some experts that are predicting that 15 percent

of businesses will not survive the Y2K, they will go bankrupt. It

isn’t even enough for a business to solve their own Millennium

problem, if all the computers with which they are linked are also

not corrected just networking into them could cause problems.

Reuters, the U.S. Controller of the Currency, the chairman of the

FDIC and the chairman of the Stockholm Stock Exchange have all

addressed the interdependency of businesses. Bengt Ryden, of the

Stockholm Stock Exchange said: “it is not sufficient merely to

have put one’ s own house in order. All the work one does may be

for naught, in terms of avoiding the fall-out from the Year 2000

Bomb, if affiliates, suppliers and customers have not, likewise,

had the necessary review and modifications performed. This

dimension of the problem seems insufficiently understood”

(Bordwin, 1998; p.NA). The breakdown between one business and

another because one of them has not corrected the problem will

lead to more lawsuits and business shut-downs.

The nation’s credit unions are not prepared yet to meet the

new millennium. A GAO report stated: “If the Year 2000 problem is

not addressed in time. Credit Union computer systems-which affect

billions of dollars of assets and transactions-will be unable to

readily process transactions or produce accurate information.

According to NCUA. without property functioning systems, credit

unions like other financial institutions face the potential of

failure” (MountJoy, 1998; p. NA). The report went on to say that

the NCUA is behind schedule in assuring all the credit unions in

the U.S. will have the problem corrected in time. It must be

remembered than when any financial institution fails, it can lead

to financial ruin for some of its members. These are serious

economic problems associated with Y2K. Assets in credit unions

total $326 billion. Nearly 25 percent of the American population

belong to a credit union and these institutions account for 2

percent of the total financial services in this country

(MountJoy, 1998).

The Y2K problem is serious; it can result in mayhem and

devastation for every single person in this world. Besides the

economic, legal and safety problems cited here, it is likely to

lead to an interruption in every person’s life for at least hours

and possibly years.


Bordwin, Milton. (1998, February). The Millennium Bug Gets

Ready to Bite. Management Review, Vol. 87.

Harney, John. (1998, January). Dancing to an international

date change. HP Professional, Vol. 12, pp. 39(4).

MountJoy, Gary N. (1998, January 7). Year 2000 Computing

Crisis – Actions Needed To Address Credit Union Systems’ Year

2000 Problem. Washington, D.C.: Government Accounting Office


Rock, Andrea and Reynolds, Tripp. (1998, February). The Year

2000: The Year 2000 Bug It’s time to check your investments,

funds, bank, credit cards, home computer and more to avoid the

worst of. Money, pp. 48+.


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