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Minding the Machines: Preventing Technological Disasters by Mark Manion, William M. Evan

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Chapter 3. The Year 2000 (Y2K) Debacle: An Ironic Failure of Information Technology

 

“We leveraged the resources of the whole planet to squash an incredibly powerful problem.”

 
 --IBM Executive

At the dawn of the computer age, when computing and information storage was time-consuming and expensive, computer programmers sought to economize on computer memory by abbreviating the number of digits pertaining to date representation. Instead of using an eight-digit date representation— month, day, and four digits for the year—programmers tended to represent dates with six digits: month, day, and two digits for the year. For example, April Fools’ Day could be represented either as 04011999 or as 040199. By 1999, if the software and hardware running a computer ...

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