Millennium bug lingers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 December, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 December, 2000, 12:00am

Although a potential millennium bug crisis was avoided last year, experts warn that some errors in computerised systems still need to be rectified.

To save memory space and cost, computer system programmers used to record the year using only the last two, rather than the whole four digits.

As a result, some systems are unable to distinguish between the years 2000 and 1900, which could negatively affect their ability to perform data processing functions.

According to experts, the problem still exists with computer hardware, operating systems, software and equipment or facilities that contain embedded microprocessors. These include fire alarm systems, telecommunication systems and automated production lines. Home electrical appliances and office machines could also be affected.

The problem not only affects the computer industry, but also banks, businesses, the Government and telecommunications.

The Government set up the Y2K Central Co-ordinating Centre to tackle the problem. Fortunately, it was able to report that the millennium bug caused no significant mishaps or deterred companies from operating normally.

In addition, the Hong Kong Productivity Council reported that it had only received 19 calls early this year regarding millennium bug-related problems.

The council had made over 1,300 calls to companies and found that only four had encountered millennium bug problems.

In total, the Government had spent $524.1 million on tackling the bug.