The Y2K incident comes back after 20 years

Tram Ho

Many computer systems stopped working on New Year's Day due to laziness in troubleshooting Y2K issues.

More than 20 years ago, the whole world gossiped about the "2000 doomsday" and the "Y2K incident" that could cause the entire computer system to collapse, resulting in many consequences such as the traffic system stalled, Businesses, banks, government organizations must be closed.

The cause of Y2K comes from the way time computers are saved. Dozens of years ago when memory was expensive, computers, electronic clock chips only used the last two digits of the year instead of four numbers to save storage space. For example, instead of saving 1998, the computer at that time simply saved 98.

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The world is racing against time to upgrade the system and reprogram the software before the time reaches the year 2000. Photo: Bloomberg.

Everything happened normally in the 1960s and 1970s, but by the late 1990s, programmers realized computers could not distinguish between 1900 and 2000 because they had the last two digits of 00. When transferred to the world. In the new century, all activities using computers and electronic clock circuits will be reversed.

Millions of people participated in the campaign to fix computer system errors. Programmers have two options to avoid the Y2K problem: rewrite the entire software, or use a faster method called windowing.

According to NewScientist , this way of using computer software to understand the value from 00 to 19 is from 2000 to 2019, the rest is from the previous century. In 1999, up to 80% of computers used this method because of its fast, low cost. Programmers think they will be broken or upgraded in the next 20 years.

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Entering 2020, systems that troubleshoot Y2K by the "fire fighting" method will encounter errors. Photo: Getty Images .

To get number 19, programmers chose the middle point in a century dating back to 1970. Many programming languages ​​and computers chose the first timeline to calculate the date and time as January 1, 1970, also known as "Unix time".

“Fixing bugs on old systems is a nightmare because not everyone who writes the code is still alive. Programmers do not think their system will still be used until 2020, ”said Paul Lomax, an engineer who used to fix the Y2K problem for Vodafone.

By the time we came to 2020, computers using windowing to fix Y2K had errors because they could not distinguish number 20 as 1920 or 2020.

As noted, some electric bills are dated January 1, 1920, while tens of thousands of parking ticket machines in the US have refused to pay by credit card because of the wrong date.

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An electricity bill with the date of delivery is January 1, 1920. Photo: @ lippard / Twitter .

In Poland, thousands of Novitus cash registers were unable to print receipts due to the same problem. WWE 2K20, the wrestling game also stopped working on the first day of the new year, fortunately when the publisher 2K Sports released a fix later.

The software developer collecting the computer error Splunk has been aware of this since November 2019 and fixed it a week later so the user is not affected.

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The WWE 2K20 game could not be played due to the "after" Y2K problem. Photo: wLEGACYinc / YouTube .

Many software and computer systems at health facilities are also affected by the "after" Y2K incident. In an interview, health software development firm McKesson confirmed that it had not received any information.

There are many ways to fix this problem: rewrite software code, upgrade a new system or … use windowing to "fight" a few decades.

After 18 years, a similar problem will occur when systems that use 32-bit binary coefficients to store information will stop working, because the "Unix time" exceeds the limit value at 3 hours. 14 minutes and 8 seconds on January 19, 2038. The incident is more than 18 years old, while many computers have now moved to 64-bit systems that allow storage of up to 292 billion years.

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Source : Techtalk