How could they have been so stupid? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Hello. This is my first time here. I've been working for the same company for 26 years. I started as a computer operator on an IBM/370 and after a couple years became a Cobol programmer trainee. I haven't done any coding for the past 5 years since I now do support work. My point is one of the first things I was told as a trainee was to NEVER use the system date. If you needed a date you got it from a control card. It is S.O.P. at our company for people to change these control card dates before they submit a job. Why do you think more companies didn't do this? Programmers have known about the 2 character year for almost 40 years.

-- John Doe (no@way.cov), March 06, 1999



Here's one account of events in the 1960's that led to our current problem:

-- Kevin (, March 06, 1999.

Thanks for joining us.

Would you agree that, notwithstanding the system date (which is controlled by the operating system) that the use of a date card submitted with the JCL still does not solve the problem?

As I have stated before, the software remediator has no choice but to examine every line of code, searching for commands which perform date comparisons, and those which perform arithmetic on dates. Even if you submit a revised "date card" with a four-digit year, you still have to convert the two-digit year that resides in the data record to a four-digit year before you can operate on it.

The vast majority of corporate decision-makers chose to use the "windowing" method for date operations, instead of using date expansion. Date expansion entails expanding the two-digit year to a four-digit year in every record in every file in every database. I believe that windowing will come back to haunt those who chose it, for years to come.

Let us also remind folks that every time you poke your nose into one of those twenty or thirty-year-old programs, it shakes like a bowl full of jelly (that is, they are very unstable). With our first round of fixes, we created more "bugs" that had to be fixed, plus we found old "bugs" that were not Y2K-related that had been in the programs since their creation.

I remember being asked a question in a staff meeting by one our managers: "What is taking so long? All you have to do is add about 9 lines of code to the program to convert the dates! We are on a tight schedule and don't want any negative stuff in our next 10Q report!"

As for the system date, that is an operating system/firmware problem that has to addressed by the vendor. I am not a CE, but I have been told that most older systems require a hardware/firmware upgrade (assuming that is even possible) or the CPU stands a good chance of not being able to do anything except consume electricity (assuming there is any electricity to consume).

Hell, I didn't mean to get carried away - happens sometimes.

Welcome to the club.


-- SysBuilder (, March 06, 1999.

Thank you for that story Kevin. I was on Gary North a couple of times and never came across it. It figures that the stupid military would do something like that. Hello Sysbuilder and thank you for the welcome. All of our files, almost all I'm pretty sure already have 4 character years. We do get some data from other people that have 2 character years but they are converted first thing before they make it into the system. We do have a few guys working on the conversion programs and they are using windowing I think. I was just wondering why more companies didn't do the same thing we did years ago but Kevin pretty much explained that. Thank you for your answers. :)

-- John Doe (, March 06, 1999.

By the way, does anybody know how I can get paragrahps to work here?

-- John Doe (, March 06, 1999.

yes jd hit enter twice to fenerate a new paragraph

-- helpful bloke (, March 06, 1999.


Also see this article for more info on the origins of Y2K: 2000:50034064:50034064&update=1770

This is one of the best articles ever written about Y2K in a mainstream publication.

-- Kevin (, March 06, 1999.

WelcOm JoHn DoE!!! BoY, ArE YoU GoInG To Be sUrpRiSeD At AlL ThE IDiOtS On ThiS FoRuM!!!

-- Dieter (, March 06, 1999.

I know John, it is the equivalent of forcing yourself to use the 2 digit date the RTC on a PC puts out instead of the 4 digit date the function call will give you. Don't really think it was that common.

BTW - been using a real (though free) mailbox and my real name for quite a while here and elsewhere. Get some interesting email - very few flames.

-- Paul Davis (, March 06, 1999.

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