It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed since the dreaded Millennium Bug put fear into the hearts of technology specialists, software developers, business executives, and legal departments everywhere.
Fears of massive system failures abounded, including worries about errant missile launches thanks to computers confused about what century we were in. But the calendar flipped from Dec. 31, 1999, to Jan. 1, 2000, with the world relatively unscathed from the Y2K switchover.
Ironically, the clock ticking to Jan. 19, 2038, poses a similar threat to some systems today. Languages such as C, C++, and early Unix languages stored dates in an odd way beginning in 1970, says Drake Coker, chief technologist for application development at Cobol provider Micro Focus. "That overflows 32 bits" on Jan. 19, 2038, Coker says. Older software will experience the problem, he says, but "it won't be as big" of a problem as Y2K.
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