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
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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y1C_Problem,"
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
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
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!