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Word Count: 3,170
The Millennial sun will first rise over human civilization in the independent republic of Kiribati a group of some thirty low lying coral islands in the Pacific Ocean that straddle the equator and the International Date Line halfway between Hawaii and Australia This long awaited sunrise marks the dawn of the year 2000 and quite possibly the onset of unheralded disruptions in life as we know it in many parts of the globe Kiribatis 81000 Micronesians may observe nothing different about this dawn they only received TV in 1989 However for those who live in a world that relies on satellites air rail and ground transportation manufacturing plants electricity heat telephones or TV when the calendar clicks from 99 to 00 we will experience a true millennial shift As the sun moves westward on January 1 2000 as the date shifts silently within millions of computerized systems we will begin to experience our computer-dependent world in an entirely new way We will finally see the extent of the networked and interdependent processes we have created At the stroke of midnight the new millennium heralds the greatest challenge to modern society that we have yet to face as a planetary community I am describing the year 2000 problem known as Y2K K signifying 1000 Nicknamed at first The Millennial Bug increasing sensitivity to the magnitude of the impending crisis has escalated it to The Millennial Bomb The problem begins as a simple technical error Large mainframe computers more than ten years old were not programmed to handle a four digit year Sitting here now on the threshold of the year 2000 it seems incomprehensible that computer programmers and microchip designers didnt plan for it But when these billions of lines of computer code were being written computer memory was very expensive Remember when a computer only had 16 kilobytes of RAM To save storage space most programmers allocated only two digits to a year
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