Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Is there a Y1C computer glitch in Taiwan's future?

Is there a Y1C computer glitch in Taiwan's future?

by Webposter / Webposted January 32, 2011

Is Taiwan facing its own immanent Y1C computer problems next year when
the ROC turns 100?

When most of the Western world was getting ready for the year 2000 and
all the Y2K computer problems the change-over from year 1999 to year
2000 might create -- and lo and behold, nothing really happened and
the change-over went smoothly with almost no glitches at all -- Taiwan
is currently facing its own Y2K problem. Call it Taiwan's Y1C problem,
because Taiwan's government uses the year 1911 as its founding date as
a republic -- The Republic of China (or R.O.C.) -- and since this year
is year 99 in Taiwan using this calendar system, next year will mark
year 100. And the extra digit just might cause some headaches for
Taiwan's computer systems that handle bank transfers, university
tuition bills, insurance premiums, medical records and driver's
license applications.

So get ready, Taiwan, for your own special Y2K problem -- Y1C to be more exact!

According to a post on Wikipedia, not to worry. Or, as the case might be, worry.

"Since, generally speaking, only government offices use the official
1911 dating system, the impact on the private sector in Taiwan should
be minimal," the Wikipedia entry says. "However, the potential to
affect government systems is another matter. Then again, on the other
hand, looking at the bright side of things, a large number of
government computers are already using a three-digit system for dates,
with a zero being used as the first digit for years below 100 (Western
year 2010 A.D. or earlier). Some government documents such as driver’s
licenses already refer to years over 100; fortunately, nothing more
than minor glitches have so far been reported."

According to David Reid, an Australian post-graduate student in Taipei, the
blogosphere began discussing this issue four years ago.

"The problem has been labelled 'Y1C' for Taiwan, and there is even a
Wikipedia page about it at,"
he said in a recent email to this reporter. "A blog called Pinyin News
wrote about it in 2006, or the year 95 as some might prefer. I expect
the issue will cause some minor problems, but I doubt it will prove to
be a disaster.:

"However, what would be a good thing is if the entire date issue
promoted more debate in Taiwan about whether using the ROC calendar is
relevant or practical," Reid added. "This is unlikely as the KMT will
be obsessed with marking the centenary and unwilling to engage in
debate about the issue."

Roger Chen, a computer science graduate student at Chung Cheng
University in Chiayi, doesn't think the problem will become too big or

I think we can solve what problems come up," he told this reporter.
"However, it's true, many banks and hospitals will have to stay on top
of it. I don't think it going to be a big problem, but then again, you
never know."

An American expat in Taipei who works for a ROC government branch as
an editor, thinks this is all much ado about nothing.

"I don't think there will be any problem on January 1, 2011, which
will be Year 100 in Taiwan's calendar system," he said. "Every PC I've
ever seen -- and most
of them have parts or are completely made by Taiwanese-owned
companies -- run a BIOS and OS that works on the Western calendar. I've never
seen a BIOS set to the ROC calendar, and I've never seen a Taiwan-specific OS
for that matter, just localized versions of Mac, Windows and Ubuntu.
Then again, if I owned a PC software service company, I'd be spreading
fear of the Y1C bug and then offering expensive plans to 'cure' it."

For the expat blogger who runs Pinyin News in Taiwan, things could get
sticky, he said in looking into the future three years ago.

"This [everything-begins-again-with-us] dating system -- which
reflects the habits of the imperial dynasties the ROC was supposed to
have eliminated -- isn’t just a quaint local custom," he wrote in
2006. "Its continued use is heading Taiwan toward its very own type of
Y2K problem. In just a few years, when the ROC reaches the age of 100
and has to jump to three-digit years, Taiwan will likely experience
what I like to call the Y1C problem. (Yes, I know: I’m mixing systems
in that C represents hundred in a system that uses M, not K, for
'thousand.' But that’s the best I could come up with. I’m open to
suggestions for catchy but correct names.)"

Pinyin News continued: "As far as I know, nothing is being done yet to
address this. Slow are the wheels of Taiwan’s bureaucracy. To give an
example of this, the Y2K problem certainly did not lack publicity,
outrageous hype even; yet in 2005 the high-profile English-language
website of the Office of the President gave the year as being 105.
About six weeks ago, when I gave a presentation to officials in charge
of various government agencies’ Internet departments, listing some of
the things wrong with the Taiwan government’s English-language
websites, I specifically brought up the example of the presidential
office’s howler."

He concluded: "Before the [ROC] year 100 comes in 2011, somebody
remind me to find a bank outside Taiwan for what little money I have."

This so-called Y1C computer problem is a local Taiwan issue. But will
overseas media like the New York Times or the Guardian newspaper in
London pay attention?

Stay tuned. This story has legs. And the countdown to 2011 has already begun!


Anonymous said...

「立法院資訊系統民國百年年序問題因應對策」經驗分享,供各機關參考。 2009/11/13
尚未處理資訊系統民國百年年序問題之機關,請於規劃99年度委外維護服務需求時,增訂民國百年資訊年序問題之清查、修改及測試等作業要求(含完成時程),相關說明請參考本網站「答客問-系統委外開發者之因應方法」。 2009/11/11
「因應資訊系統民國百年年序問題」技術專班 2009/10/05

jidanni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jidanni said...

North Korea's too, the same day.
Let's liberate them during the confusion.

dan said...


Dear Mr. Blogger

With regard to your inquiry, our Information Mnagement Center(IMC) replied as follows:

Some government agencies application software used 2-digit to define ROC year fields.
In ROC year 100, 2-digit fields would be overflowed and cause application software to fu-
nction incorrectly, such as to produce wrong results on the screen, or print incorrect rep-
orts. We called that as "ROC Year 100 Problem in Information Systems" (Y100).

IMC has noticed government agencies checking their software thoroughly and just cor-
rect the ROC year fields. Otherwise, IMC has a task force in charge of propagating and c-
onsulting, and set a Y100 web site ( to facilitate the government
agencies experience interchange and let public know government activities.
Thanks for your concern. If you want to know more detail, please email us.


IMC,DGBAS The Executive Yuan
ROC Taiwan

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dan said...

Y2K-style computer bug looms over Taiwan
By Benjamin Yeh (AFP) – 9 hours ago

HSINTIEN, Taiwan — Thousands of small businesses in Taiwan are looking with growing unease towards December 31, 2010, fearing that the New Year will trigger a local version of the Y2K "millennium bug".

The island's unique calendar counts time from the 1911 revolution that brought down the last Chinese emperor, meaning January 1 will not be the start of 2011, but of year 100.

The concern is this could spell havoc for many older computers that have to get used to counting three digits rather than two.

"Numerous clients have approached me over the past six months and asked for advice on how to update computer hardware and software," said Lee Chin-hung, a technology consultant in the city of Hsintien in northern Taiwan.

Taiwan Resibon Abrasive Products Co, a plastics material maker employing more than 100 people, will replace some of the computers installed at its plant in Tamshui town outside Taipei.

"If not, data such as the serial numbers of the finished products would end up in a complete mess," said Yeh Kun-ming, a company spokesman.

Experts estimate that up to 200,000 local shops and companies still use computers that are not armed to withstand the local version of the millennium bug.

"Primarily, the bug may cause problems for accounting, inventory and personnel systems at small businesses," said Louis Chen, an economic ministry official.

Although there is little more than half a year left to get prepared, numerous companies have so far done nothing.

Fifteen percent of the island's small businesses say they have taken no pre-emptive measures even though they believe they may be at risk, according to a recent survey by the economics ministry.

"Most of them are micro businesses. In addition to budget considerations, many also know too little about coping with the threat," said Wang Wen-pu of Knowledge Free Way Corp, a Taipei-based private information service provider.

It is unavoidable that the situation Taiwan now finds itself in has led to comparisons with the big one -- the Y2K "millennium bug" of New Year 2000.

Edward Tenner, US author of "Tech Speak" and other bestsellers dealing with technology issues, said Y2K was a major concern a decade ago, even if few predicted a global meltdown.

"Most of the experts I met then expected localised interruptions rather than breakdowns -- brush fires, not an inferno," he told AFP.

Still, enterprises and government agencies worldwide spent hundreds of billions of US dollars to cope with the Y2K problems.

But when the clocks rolled over into 2000, only a limited number of Y2K glitches erupted and none of them led to the kind of major incidents that had been described in the worst scare scenarios.

While some experts said the absence of major disasters reflected the determined and hugely expensive preparations before the turn of the millennium, others argued the danger had been overstated.

That experience may affect the way people in Taiwan react, or choose not to react, ahead of the local "Y2K" event.

Lai Yueh-chun, the 46-year-old owner of a comic book rental shop, has already replaced the motherboard and the hard disk in his computer.

"I'm afraid all data on my clients could be gone by January 1 if I don't do anything," Lai said.

"But I'm still waiting to see if there's a cheaper option than buying a new computer."

Anonymous said...

But Luhodai comments: "There shouldn't be any problems with government computers in Taiwan. They converted years ago. I have several documents from the Taiwan government which are in the three-digit format, including my driver's license. Small businesses with very old computers using the official government dating format may be affected, but many private computers use the Western year notation.

BTW, the ROC ''calendar'' does not date from the Revolution in 1911. PLEASE MAKE A NOTE: It dates from the foundation of the Republic of China (ROC) on January 1, 1912. The AFP article is wrong on that point.
Mr Yeh, if you have a chance, please issue a correction on that point. Unless I am wrong.

KeN said...

did anything happened today


Anonymous said...

kEn, nothing happened, except
CEO of Facebook Mark Z came to Taipei to eat snake soup in Snake Alley Night Market.....but the computers did not crash, all is well in computer savvy Taiwan......

Anonymous said...

Dear Editor,

With a new year upon us in the Western Gregorian calendar, as well as
it being a century year in the official Republic of China calender, it
turns out that most of the anxieties about
the year ''100'' causing computer glitches on some computers in Taiwan
were unfounded. Nothing much happened in terms of the
anticipated "Y1C" (Year One Century) computer bug that several news
articles last year alluded to.

However, an expat friend of mine in Taipei told me of his own recent
experience with a minor Y1C problem, saying: "Sometime during the
first week of the new year, I tried to use the telephone appointment
system to arrange an outpatient visit at a large hospital in Taiwan.
After punching in all the required information, the computer voice
"confirmed" that I had made an appointment on 'day zero of month
zero'. My wife then put in a phone call to a real person the next day
to make a real appointment. This person told my wife that the apparent
problem I encountered had to do with '2-digit year becoming 3-digit
year' (or something to that effect), and that the hospital expected to
have it fixed by the end of the first week of January. If they could
'fix' it so quickly, I wonder now: Why didn't they do what they were
supposed to do before it caused inconvenience for countless people?"


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