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Early reports: Y2K test date a breeze

Asian nations, the North American electric power sector, and others around the world report no ill results on September 9, 1999, which was thought to pose Y2K-like problems for computer systems worldwide.

Initial reports indicate the 9/9/99 problem appears to be more myth than menace.

Asian nations, the North American electric power sector, and others around the world report no ill effects from the date change, which was thought to pose Y2K-like problems for computer systems worldwide.

September 9, 1999, could be represented as 9999 on many computer software programs. In theory, this string of nines might have disrupted systems and provided a preview of the millennium bug chaos predicted when computer clocks tick into the next century at midnight on December 31, 1999.

Back to Year 2000 Index Page The Y2K exercise, which was coordinated by the North American Electric Reliability Council, or NERC, was conducted from September 8 to September 9 and was designed to verify the adequacy of industry contingency plans that will be in place during the Year 2000 transition.

With Energy Secretary Bill Richardson watching closely, about 500 utilities passed another Y2K milestone at midnight as power continued to flow to millions of consumers. Richardson participated in the midnight drill at the department's Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) facility in Vancouver, Washington.

About 15,000 North American workers spent the day testing their operating, communications, administrative, and contingency plans. The drills simulated as realistically as possible the actual rollover on December 31. No failures or problems were reported.

"While the nationwide test went smoothly and contingency plans, including back-up communications systems, appeared in order, it is imperative that the utility sector continues to be diligent in testing," Secretary Richardson said in a statement.

As the first region of the earth to experience the new day, Asia emerged unscathed from a computer bug some feared would strike older systems on 9/9/99, according to Reuters reports from around the region today.

Government bodies, companies, and markets in Australia, Japan, China, India, South Korea, and other countries were all functioning glitch-free today with the "four nines" business day drawing to a close for most of the region.

As the Indian subcontinent roused to its business day, no problems were reported. Bangladesh's central bank said it had turned off its computer network as a precaution, but would likely start it back up since commercial banks in the country appeared to have no problems.

Checks early today with Australia's federal and state bodies revealed no computer foul-ups, said Susan Page, chief general manager for the federal government's Year 2000 Project Office. Major banks and telecommunications firms in Australia also found business continued as usual.

The Hong Kong Airport Authority treated the event as a premillennium exercise by holding drills, while the territory's Marine Department enforced Y2K requirements for vessels entering Hong Kong waters. A Hong Kong government official said no incidents had been reported, according to Reuters.

Japan, a country cited by some experts as lagging in Y2K preparations, also found smooth sailing even though its markets got a dose of pre-9999 jitters yesterday.

The Bank of Japan had to pump some $2.7 billion worth of Treasury bills into the system yesterday amid reports some foreign banks were rushing to get more cash before September 9.

As the ninth day of September passes without a hitch, many hope the same will occur the first day of 2000.

The Year 2000 problem, also known as the millennium bug, stems from an old programming shortcut that used only the last two digits of the year. Many computers now must be modified, or they may mistake the year 2000 for the year 1900 and may not be able to function at all.