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by jitender yadav, May 18, 2020, 2:18:20 PM | 5 minutes |

What was the Y2K problem, how was it solved?

The Y2K problem is once again under discussion due to its mention in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address on 12 May, 2020.

This was a problem that :-
  •  Concern was expressed that many industries (eg electricity, transport or financial) and government work would stop functioning at midnight on 1 January 2000.
  • People began to fear that the processing and processing of dates and times after December 31, 1999 would be wrong.

Meaning of Y2K:-
    The term is made up of two elements Y and 2K.
  • Y means 'Year', and
  • K means 'one thousand'. Hence, 2K means 'two thousand' (2000).

In this way, the full form of Y2K is 'Year 2000'. The term is used for the software problem of the year 2000.

The year can be written in digits in two ways :-
  •  With all four digits; Such as 2002, 2016 etc., and
  • With the latter two-digits only; Such as ‘02,’ 16 etc.

Early computer programs were designed to work only over two-digit years. There was a big reason for doing this as well.

Actually, the cost of storage and memory was very high at that time. So much that
  • The cost of 1 KB of storage started at around ₹ 750 ($ 10), which was sometimes ₹ 7,500 / KB or more.
  • Today, 1,07,37,41,824 KB (1 TB) of storage can be purchased for less than ₹ 7,500 !!. IBM 1401, a popular business computer model of IBM, provided only 2 KB of storage (1 MB contains 1024 KB).

Therefore, it was very important for the programmers to use less storage. Therefore, most programs store the dates in six-digit YY-MM-DD format.

  • YY for two digits year,
  • MM took two digits of the month, and
  • DD for double digits of the day.
Because storage was very expensive, it would reduce the size of data files and databases, and save money.


Those who store the program year in two-digits will not be able to make any distinction between 1900 and 2000, since the subsequent digits of both make the year '00.

Therefore it was a challenge to avoid the mess of '99 (1999) re-entry of '00 (1900) in the whole system.

Its most widespread impact was on the United States, European countries, and other computerized countries — where all data was stored on computers. Obviously, this problem arose due to the lack of visionary thinking at that time.


Several different methods were used to solve the Y2K problem. Some of them are explained below-

1. Date expansion:

The year should be stored in four-digits instead of two-digits. This was considered the 'most accurate' solution, as it would allow clear dates to be written, and would also be a permanent solution.

But this method was very expensive. Why it was expensive has already been told (in introduction).

At the same time, this required large-scale testing and transformation efforts, and the entire system would also have to be changed.

2. Date compression

Dates can be compressed (truncated) as 14-bit binary numbers. This technique could show 16,384 different years.

Fact - The binary digit system is a way of writing numbers using only two digits (0 and 1). 14-bit binary numbers are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D and E.

3. Date re-partitioning:

The six-digit YY MM DD format should be converted to the six-digit YYY DDD format.

 - For three-digit years of age;
  • For example - 0999 is shown as 099 and 2001 as 101.
 - DDD for the three-digit day (from 1 to 366);
  • For example, 002 is shown on 2 January and 223 is shown on 12 August.

This was a better approach because it did not require much reshuffling of older systems, and would have solved the Y2K-like problem by at least 2899.

4. Windowing:

The two-digit format should be maintained and in the programs only when necessary, the Year (SSS digits) should be given importance.

This technique was easier to test and implement than an extension of date, as it required only a few small patches of code to be installed in the program. This method was also very expensive.

Not forever, but this technology was designed to work for decades. It was also right to think, because the old systems eventually turn into new technology.

5. Software kits:

This was an effective way of dealing with the Y2K problem. The Y2K problem could be avoided by installing these software kits into the computer.

Indian engineers (engineers) helped the world out of this problem by providing software kits.

Beneficial for india

  • The United States looked for employees to fix the problem, leaving India with the opportunity to provide the most engineers.
  • While the IT sector in India contributed 1.2% to GDP in 1998, it is now currently contributing 7.7%.
  • A bug that put most countries in crisis proved an opportunity for India.


  • Y2K had a significant impact on the computer industry.
  • Contrary to expectations, the year 2000 saw no major computer failure.
  • The total cost of the work done in preparation for Y2K exceeded $ 445 billion (about ₹ 337 trillion).
  • Companies and organizations around the world had to test their computer systems to avoid this bug, and had to upgrade.

Hope you like this information.

Please like and share if you find this information interesting.

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