The Y2K Bug Bites Again

Back at the turn of the century everyone was worried about the Y2K bug, the potential for our computing infrastructure to go awry and wreak havoc when the year 2000 arrived. Dates coded with only two digits would roll over from 99 to 00, resetting the clock back to the year 1900. Catastrophe did not strike but the problem was a nuisance, requiring updated software to deal with the date change.

Survived-Y2KFor those who still work with older software, the Y2K bug has not been entirely eradicated. I recently worked with a client who replaced his iMac G3 running Tiger with a new Intel iMac running Lion. The older iMac had replaced some even older Mac systems, and carried along for the ride in the Applications (Mac OS 9) folder was a copy of Filemaker Pro 2.1, along with a few databases maintained since the 1990s in that format. Classic Mode was a wonderful thing.

We purchased a new copy of Filemaker Pro v11 but this version does not support opening v2.1 files. Instead I opened the files on my PowerBook Wallstreet running Filemaker Pro v3, and saved in .fp3 format. From there I could open the files in Filemaker Pro v9 and resave in the (current) .fp7 format. Easy enough, and I gave my client the converted files.

A few days later – after catching his breath at the change from a PowerPC G3 to an Intel Core i3 based iMac – I got an email from my client that all the dates in one of the databases had jumped back 100 years. Things entered in 2000 were showing as 1900, 2001 were showing 1901, etc.. The Y2K bug had struck again!

Fortunately the fix was easy, just a Find and Replace on each year in the date field to update things by a century. But still a good reminder that for Vintage Mac fans the Y2K bug will never fully be eradicated!

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