Is The Year 2030 Going To Cause Computer Problems?

Part of Chapter Trouble Shooting

YOU REMEMBER Y2K, of course. The year 2000, at 12:01 AM on January 1, when power generating stations were supposed to shut down, airplanes were going to fall out of the sky, and worst of all, your bank was going to forget your credit card number. Not to mention the year you were born. All due to computer programming limitations that were decades old.

Well, the world somehow muddled through it. During 1999, we were asked by many customers to verify that our battery chargers wouldn’t come to a grinding halt on the first day of January 2000. This was relatively easy, since our power systems products didn’t contain any electronic calendars, or even real-time clocks, and weren’t connected to the internet or any net at all, except for wired-in SCADA systems. 

Then, January came, and not much happened. This was probably due, at least in part, to the efforts of many programmers literally brought out of retirement to revise forty-year old code, which had scrimped on computer memory by storing only the last two digits of the year (that is, 60, 61, and so forth). So, in the legacy code, the years 2000, 2001, and so forth were indistinguishable from 1900, 1901, and so forth. [This was done primarily because data storage was expensive in 1960 – well over $1 per byte.]

Have you heard that this problem will arise again in 2030? Some believe it will because some programmers patched the code using a “windowing” method; they made programs think that the year ’30 means 2030, while ’31 means 1931 (the actual decade they used may vary). Of course, these programmers justified their choices by asserting, “These programs won’t be around in 30 years,” the same assertion they made in 1960.

Rest easy. HindlePower products will not be affected by the year 2030, or any other year.


William K. Bennett

Former VP/Chief Engineer

HindlePower, Inc.

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