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New 'Millennium bug' to hit computers in 2038

Posted on Wednesday, 17 December, 2014 | Comment icon 22 comments

The issue stems from the limitations of 32-bit systems. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Jeff Golden
An issue with 32-bit computer systems could result in widespread problems on Tuesday 19 January 2038.
Back at the end of the 20th century, panic about the Year 2000 bug saw thousands of businesses scrambling to upgrade their computers in fear that the allegedly crippling flaw would cause widespread problems at the beginning of the new millennium.

As it turned out the bug, which had been fixed by most businesses before the turn of the calendar, ended up having very little impact at all and the preceding doomsday predictions of a global economic collapse never came to pass.

Fast forward to the present day however and now there is a new version of the bug on the horizon. Known as the Year 2038 Problem, the bug will prevent 32-bit computer systems from being able to correctly tell the date and time after the 19th of January 2038.

YouTube recently experienced a similar issue when its hit counter for Psy's "Gangnam Style" video, which uses a 32-bit system, reached its upper limit when it hit 2,147,483,647 views.

Whether the bug will actually be a problem when 2038 comes around however remains to be seen as even today 32-bit computers are fast being replaced by newer 64-bit counterparts.

In all likelihood the bug will have even less of an impact than the original Millennium bug did.

Source: New Zealand Herald | Comments (22)

Tags: Year 2038 Problem, Computers

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by little_dreamer on 18 December, 2014, 2:52
On a side note, the UNIVAC, TRS-80, and Apple II computers have ALL been having problems lately.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Atuke on 18 December, 2014, 8:20
This is why I still use my trusty commodore 64
Comment icon #15 Posted by spud the mackem on 18 December, 2014, 10:31
How can they predict what might happen in 13 years time ,its ludicrous. I predict that in 13 years time we shall be using holographic computers.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Merc14 on 18 December, 2014, 17:14
People have 13 years to replace their already 10 year old computer. Come on people!
Comment icon #17 Posted by BiffSplitkins on 18 December, 2014, 17:34
As long as my wife's Candy Crush is still working everything will be just fine. :-)
Comment icon #18 Posted by Oxo1 on 18 December, 2014, 23:42
Human civilisation will have destroyed itself by 2038, if there are any survivors left they wont be using computers for sure, it will be a fight for survival instead.
Comment icon #19 Posted by qxcontinuum on 23 December, 2014, 6:32
well , i though John Titor already solved this problem in the future!...
Comment icon #20 Posted by Gomar on 24 December, 2014, 0:52
On a side note, the UNIVAC, TRS-80, and Apple II computers have ALL been having problems lately. Nah. My Commodore64 is still running just fine. I bet by 2038 I'll beat the bug with it. But, I still do have my cave stocked with canned foods back in 1999. All I need is a woman to repopulate the planet.
Comment icon #21 Posted by MisterMan on 24 December, 2014, 22:19
How can they predict what might happen in 13 years time ,its ludicrous. 2038 is a bit farther into the future than that.
Comment icon #22 Posted by travelnjones on 29 December, 2014, 19:39
I think this is more a problem with the back end machines we connect to. Apache servers and what not, Running on UNIX. I think its called the end of Time T.

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