January 11, 1999
Small Businesses Not Ready for Y2K
One-third of small-business owners who use computers to run their businesses still have no plans to address the Year 2000 (Y2K) bug, a computer programming glitch that may affect computer equipment at the end of 1999, reports The Wall Street Journal.
A study by the National Federation of Independent Business shows that only 40% of small businesses with computers planned to fix the problem, though 19% of those respondents hadn't done anything about it as of October 1998, when the survey was conducted. The report says 23% of respondents don't plan to spend any money to fix the potential problem, and 5% aren't aware of it. About one-half of respondents claim to be "very dependent" on computers, and those who don't use them still depend on credit card companies, utilities or suppliers that do.
Many small businesses believe they are exempt from Y2K: 89% say their most important software was written in the past two years, when programmers were correcting for the date-sensitive problem.
The Y2K bug is a programming oversight that doesn't account for the change in date prefixes from "19" to "20." If not corrected by the end of the century, date-sensitive computer equipment may not work after Dec. 31, 1999.
- by Stacey King