This whole problem came about when computer memory was still very expensive, back in the 1960s-70s, and people werenít thinking about the millennium.
Computer programmers of that day realized that if they only use the last two digits of the year, they could save valuable memory space and money.
What the programmers didnít think about was the computers may read the year 2000 as the year 1900 because they only programmed the last two digits of the year.
Almost everybody would have been affected by the computer bug, but computer programmers figured it out in about the middle of 1997, so that has given companies some time to become 2000 compliant.
One place people are most concerned about the 2000 bug affecting is the banking and financial areas.
All of Paynesvilleís financial institu-tions have begun and nearly completed plans for the millennium already.
ďWe have been working on it for over a year,Ē said Bernie Brixius, Vice President of CFO at Melrose Credit Union.
Brixius also added that internal devices at the Melrose Credit Union are in good shape, but some of the outside vendors arenít compliant yet, but are planning to be done before the deadline.
There has been lots of testing done on the equipment of all three financial institutions in Paynesville.
Another thing on top of the testing that most of the institutions have been doing is documenting the equipment that is not compliant and then they would either have to update or replace the non-compliant materials.
At Farmers and Merchants State Bank they seem to be ready. They have been done testing since October and feel they are ready for the year 2000.
They receive software updates every three to four months, so they really didnít have to do anything out of the ordinary except to test their new software and make sure it is 2000 compliant.
Community First National Bank is taking a little different approach from the other two. Their holding company is doing most of the work with the Y2K bug. A couple of things the bank is dealing with specifically is the notification of their customers and testing their equipment.
Community First National Bank said that almost all of their equipment is compliant. They have also been working with their vendors to send them specific letters dealing with their specific equipment.
Financial institutions are one of the major areas that the Y2K bug may affect, but it wonít be the only area. Almost everything could be affected by the Y2K bug.
Even the state government has released information regarding the governments progress on the Y2K bug. Governor Carlson has said that he encourages all businesses and communities take this problem seriously and begin to address the problem if they havenít done so already.
Paynesville Area Health Care System is another major area where the Y2K problem is a point of concern.
PAHCS is in the process of finding out whether or not all of their equipment is 2000 compliant or not. They are writing letters to the company to figure out what equipment may be or may not be compliant.
They have found out that most of their equipment is compliant, and they havenít discovered any major equipment that isnít compliant as of yet.
No testing has begun yet, according to Karen Bachman, but said they will be having a meeting very soon with all of the department heads to find out what isnít compliant.
ďNobody will guarantee whether or not they will be compliant because nobody knows for sure,Ē said Bachman.
Bachman also said there are many agencies that have been looking into the progress of the hospitals, including the Department of Health and Human Services.
The year 2000 is only 368 days away. What will happen when the new millennium comes? Nobody knows, but they are proceeding with cautious optimism.
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