LETTERS

The Millennium Misnomer

First, I want to thank you for your quality publication. I am a recent subscriber and already have found good value in Washington Technology. I think you should devote more time to the [year 2000] issues in the near future.

I am writing to clear up some issues that you wrote about [concerning] the year 2000 problems (WT, Oct. 24).

Specifically, the article "Countdown to the Millennium" refers to this notion of "the millennium bug" in title and content. Unfortunately, the subject bug kicks in before the new millennium. Hence, "the millennium bug" is a great misnomer. The reporter states on page 17 "Thus, at the turn of the century, legacy computer systems will display the new year as 00 but interpret it as 1900 not 2000."

The year 2000 is not the turn of the century nor millennium. The next century and millennium begins on Jan. 1, 2001, at 00:00 hours. Therefore, these year 2000 bugs (a better expression) happen this century and this millennium.

It seems that many people are confused about when the new millennium starts. This is confirmed by your reference to the millennium bug, the hundreds of references to this in many other publications, the International Olympic Committee president's statement that the Sydney, Australia, Games (in 2000) are the first Games of the new millennium, and numerous comments I have heard.

By international agreement, the Gregorian calendar defines the decade as counting from 1 to 10, the century as counting from 1 to 100, and the millennium as counting from 1 to 1000. This means that the year 2000 is the last year of the current (200th) decade, the last year of the 20th century, and the last year of the 2nd millennium. The year 2000 is not part of the new (next) millennium.

Hence, the new millennium will begin following the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, 2000, making the first day of the new millennium Jan. 1, 2001.

Please promulgate this information in your publications, discussions, news, authors, contributors, etc. and quash this misnomer before it gets as bad as the year 2000 problem itself.

Richard A. Painter

Vice President

Painter Engineering Inc.

Vestal, N.Y.

painter@spectra.net

r.painter@ieee.org

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