Is 72 a special number for programming? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I keep seeing the number 72hours show up in reporting and forecasting for Y2k fixes. "Most problems will be handled and fixed within the first three days." Things like that. Or, prepare for interruptions of 3 days. Store enough food and water for 3 days. Over and over again. Now, I have seen that there is a rule of 72 that seems to be a magic number in figuring interest or payback period for an investment, and I wonder if there is a similar formula for fixing computers that is based on 72 hours? Anybody know why this number is constantly being published regarding computer fixes, regardless of the industry or application? Is this a Geek number, a Grope number, a Gartner number, what?

-- Gordon P. Connolly (, May 16, 1999


That's how long it will take the National Guard to organize, and start trying to help the sheeple.... (help, yeah right)

Got emergency preps???

lyin' on the porch, soakin' up some sun,

The Dog

-- Dog (desert dog, May 16, 1999.


Right, I have seen that number connected to FEMA and National Guard response times. So that would answer the "food and water for 3 days" part. But, there is still that other statement, about most "problems" being fixed within the first 3 days. I think it is referring to computer glitches in that context. So why 72 hours for the fixes?

-- Gordon (, May 16, 1999.

1) 72 hours is the minimum for ARC/FEMA response to locallized disasters

2) 72 hours is about as far as the dedicated geek can work without sleep, or with only minimal sleep. After that, things start to look a little funny, and EVERYBODY is a commedian.


-- chuck, a Night Driver (, May 16, 1999.

72 hours is a non-panic number. We can do this. Ah, can't we?

-- Mike Lang (, May 16, 1999.

72 hours isn't a magic number for programming, it's for the emergency response folks. After 72 hours, most of the emergency generators run out of fuel. And it seems that no emergency planner I've ever dealt with can plan on what to do if his agency's emergency systems go down. Makes me wonder if they don't *plan* to throw up their hands and call it quits if the power doesn't come back on before the 72 hour point.


-- Wildweasel (, May 16, 1999.

I feel like a historian now. :-) The 72 hour number has been mentioned frequently since the time of this special report tailored to the general public that the GartnerGroup released at the end of October 1998:

"Year 2000 Risk Assessment and Planning for Individuals"


GartnerGroup urges individuals to take a long-term view of the issues. Withdrawing funds from banks or liquidating investments is not warranted. For the most part, GartnerGroup assumes that most enterprises will address mission-critical systems so that 90 percent of the systems that do fail will be corrected within three days. Therefore, for most people, planning for year 2000 issues requires getting through January 2000. A "bomb shelter" mentality is not called for. Preparing for the new millennium should be much like preparing for a storm that will last less than a week.


-- Kevin (, May 16, 1999.

Less than three weeks after the release of the GartnerGroup report for individuals, the first slickly written "happy-face" newspaper article appeared...

"About that Y2K warning, chill out"

Less than two weeks after the Wichita Eagle article, "60 Minutes" devoted one of their segments to Y2K. The "60 Minute" coverage was around Thanksgiving of 1998. It was around December 1998 when the junk silver market took off for awhile and when Peter de Jager suddenly became much more optimistic.

-- Kevin (, May 16, 1999.

In this context, it's just a convenient number guess.

-- No Spam Please (, May 17, 1999.

It's a political answer, one that this administration feels is adequate. 72 hours is handy also, because people don't need cash for 72 hours - so bank runs can be eliminated if people are told to expect 72 hours of disruptions.

If more than 72 hours, then some cash is needed to get things by those who aren't prepared, the banks cannot manage all the people who have been trained by the administration not to get ready, and they are scared to death of a bank run.

'Winter storm" "Bump in the road" "Isolated outages" are meaningless except in their implied requirement to be ready everywhere, because nobody can tell what will fail where for how long.

They just don't want to admit it.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, May 17, 1999.

Beats the 72 out of me. Gee, after 72 hours in front of my terminal, I'll be under the desk, and no comments from Monica thank you... <:)=

-- Sysman (, May 17, 1999.

3 days is the length of most New Year holidays - Y2K rollover is midnight Saturday, then two days of weekend and an extra day holiday for New Year. Everyone hopes like blazes that any bugs that do pop up can be sorted out before start-of-business Tuesday. In fact, we're lucky we got that three-day breathing space. However, it does mean that anyone who didn't have spare money (or whatever) on Friday night might just have to do without it until Tuesday morning - if not some indefinite longer period.

-- Don Armstrong (, May 17, 1999.

Any similarity between 72 (hours -- 3 days) and 72 (rule of 72 for quick and dirty doubling/halving compounding related estimates) are purely coincidental.

-- A (, May 17, 1999.

I will have to agree with A on this one - it is just happenstance.

-- Paul Davis (, May 17, 1999.

The significance of '72' in programming is quite a remarkable topic.....

Programmers, after years of exhaustive studies came to the incredible discovery that the number 72 was unique in so many different ways. They found that it was the only number in existence that not only was the product of 6 and 12, but also the result of 78 minus 6 and remarkably, even the result of 100 minus 28. It is also a multiple of 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 18, 24 and 36. When you add those numbers together the sum is 122, which remarkably, is exactly 50 more than 72. Why is that so significant.....well 50 itself, is 22 less than 72 which corresponds exactly to the number of years since the release of Star Wars.....WOW!!!!!

Needless to say, I have provided ample evidence as to the almost mystical appeal of the number 72.

Sheesh....and some people even doubt my incredible mastery of the field of numerology.......

-- Craig (, May 17, 1999.

Craig: I retract my above post in deference to your masterful analysis. :)

-- A (, May 17, 1999.

Actually, it's the "Rule of 78's", not 72's, and is explained here.

I used to think that the "Rule of 78's" referred to the fact that some music (especially jazz) sounded especially fine on a 78 (cf. Duke Ellington, Caravan). 8-}]

Of course, not only do a number of you have no idea what a "78" is, you don't even know what "vinyl" is. My kids look at our old record albums and just shake their heads...

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), May 17, 1999.

All -

Actually, I read somewhere - forget the source - that way back when FEMA was first formed, 72 hours was the amount of time that it would take FEMA to respond to any crisis anywhere in the nation. It was also the time that psychology dictated that people would actually prepare for. It was within most people's budgets and mental ability to handle. Of course, I don't think FEMA has ever arrived anywhere in 72 hrs. either...!

-- Valkyrie (, May 17, 1999.

If you add 594 to 72, you get 666 -- the secret number of Satan.

If you multiply 72 X 9.25 (the projected minimum wage by 2072), you get 666, which is the secret number of Satan.

2000 divided by 72 gives 27.7777 ... which seems to have no significance until you realize that if you add 638.2222 ... to it, you get 666, which is the secret number of Satan.

The average light bulb used in the home is 60 watts. The average home has 11 of these bulbs in service. This gives 660 watts -- just 6 watts shy of the secret number of Satan.

(You might think that latter example doesn't apply, but it does. If the line voltage into the house is increased from 110 to 120 volts -- a not uncommon occurrence -- the bulbs draw 72 watts.)

At 800x600 resolution, the typical computer monitor will have 480,000 pixels active. If you divide this by 72, you get 6666.666666 ..., or an infinite regression of Satan's secret number.

We're doomed.

-- Stephen M. Poole, CEt (, May 18, 1999.

Actually, 72 hours was the ARC's time frame, borrowed by FEMA.


-- chuck, a Night Driver (, May 18, 1999.

After these obviously clever analysis of the number 72 and the unquestionable link it has with 666, we will know that all future contributors who post to this forum who use the number 72 in any way shape or form, are clearly the spawn of Satan. hehehehehehehehehe........

We have revealed their evil secrets..BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH............

-- Craig (, May 18, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ