Do you remember? - there was the so-called Year 2000 problem (Y2K bug), which caused apocalyptic prophecies at the turn of the millennium from the 20th to the 21st century, because many "legacy" computer programs used only two digits to store the year (i.e.: 76 instead of 1976). However, the IT Industry managed to cope with the Y2K bug successfully.

Well, a similar problem is looming again, on January 19th of the year 2038 at 3 o'clock, 14 minutes and 8 seconds. Why?

Operating systems such as UNIX, Linux, Mac OS X have a counter that will jump in 2038 from the sequence of digits "111 1111 1111 1111 1111 1111 1111 1111 1111 11112" to the sequence of digits "000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 00002". And the latter figure represents a point in time in the past, namely in the year 1901. We can therefore expect that the IT industry will enter again a crisis management mode when we approach the year 2038 - quite similar to what we've seen regarding the year 2000 problem. But I am quite relaxed: The crisis management for the Y2K bug proved succesful, so why should it be any different for 2038?


The author is a manager in the software industry with international expertise: Authorized officer at one of the large consulting firms - Responsible for setting up an IT development center at the Bangalore offshore location - Director M&A at a software company in Berlin.