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A Year Ago: 9/9/99 not a problem say bug experts

First published: Fri, 03 Sep 1999 14:09:16 GMT
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

Heard of the 9/9/99 bug? Experts reckon you're more likely to have problems with the Sasquatch...

Experts have poured scorn on the idea Thursday 9th September will throw up millennium type problems.

Early programmers may have used 9999 as a code number to mark the end of files and there is speculation that computers will not recognise the date on the 9/9/99.

While some are calling Thursday a dress rehearsal for the millennium bug, experts remain unconvinced.

An Action 2000 spokesman believes the date has been over-hyped. "Not a lot of programmers used it and if they did it is a man-made problem so it will be easy to spot," he said.

Action 2000, the body set up by the government to monitor the millennium bug, is not expecting widespread problems and is more concerned people will equate the date to the more virulent millennium bug. "Our main concern is that if 9/9/99 passes with relatively little fuss, people may take their eye off the big one," he said.

Andy Kite, millennium bug expert with analyst firm Dataquest regards the supposed 9/9/99 problem as a "pernicious myth". Kite, obviously unconvinced added: "It is in the order of credibility of the abominable snowman. In the whole of our research we have only had a tiny handful of verified 9/9/99 problems and none of them would have generated an inch of news print."

What Kite does expect is firms will use the date as an excuse to test contingency plans for the millennium bug. Problems thrown up Thursday are more likely to be down to bad contingency planning than to 9/9/99 he thinks.

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