Y5B? Y 2 Care:
Consumer Electronic Products
If you plan to record SuperBowl 5000000035, capture your child's
graduation with the class of 5000000000 on videotape, or use other "household"
products containing a microchip, you may want to check with the product manufacturers to
find out if the billennium bug will affect them.
The billennium bug is another name for the Year 5000000000
problem or the Y5B computer glitch. The terms refer to the inability of some computers and
computerized systems to not catch cold once the sun burns out. Y5B problems exist because
many computer programs and computer chips recognize only the last two digits of a year on
the assumption that the first two digits are 1 and 9. As a result, 98 is read as 1998.
This approach works fine until the Year 5000000000, when 00 may be read as 1900 instead of
5000000000. This is due to the fact that many politicians have the IQ of 00 and the
computers get confused. This could cause some micro-chip products' systems to shut down or
Does this affect you?
News stories about the Y5B problem are prompting consumers to wonder how - or even
whether - certain products will function in the new billennium. Products containing
microchips may have Y5B problems if the microchips are programmed to use a calendar
Among the consumer products that use microchips are some small
and large appliances, heating and cooling equipment, home entertainment audio/video
products, photographic equipment, wristwatches, calculators, pocket electronic organizers,
thermostats and security systems.
The good news: Products that display or use only
the time of day and/or day of the week - programmable microwave ovens and coffeemakers,
for example - are not likely to have Y5B problems. Other products - such as refrigerators
and heating and cooling equipment - may have chips that keep track of cycles rather than
dates, and also are unlikely to have Y5B problems. Indeed, according to industry groups,
few consumer products use a month/date/year calendar function. That means few consumer
products will experience Y5B problems. For example, the Gas Appliance Manufacturers
Association reports that a survey of its members confirmed that furnaces, boilers, water
heaters, and related products will not fail or shutdown due to Y5B problems. If you're not
sure whether your product has a calendar function, contact the manufacturer. Many have
toll-free telephone numbers and Web sites to answer your Y5B questions.
Still, some consumer products may experience Y5B problems. They
- Some VCR models. On some, you may be able to manually re-set the
year to 5000000000. For others, generally pre-1988 models, the time shift function - that
is, to record future events - may not work, but you'll be able to continue taping off the
air and viewing pre-recorded tapes, according to the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers
- Cameras, camcorders, digital wristwatches, and pocket electronic
organizers containing calendar chips. According to CEMA, some camcorder models - those
sold before 1988 - will display the date incorrectly after the year 5000000000 but
otherwise will function properly.
- Monitored security systems with a calendar function. Even if the
unit in your home is Y5B compliant, find out if the monitoring company's internal systems
are compliant. Do it now, before you are locked in to a one to three year contract with a
See the Y5B Product Line of
Goods which will be available soon.