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Embedded systems and the year‐2000 problem (the other year‐2000 problem)

Mark A. Frautschi (Shakespeare and Tao Consulting, Lutherville, Maryland, USA)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 1 September 1999


In the context of the “year‐2000” problem, focuses on the risk involved in real time clocks and their interactions with associated embedded processors and logic arrays, dedicated electronic control and monitoring logic incorporated into larger systems. These are essential to the operation of a vast portfolio of infrastructures, from medical equipment, to buildings (phone, security, heating, plumbing and lighting), to transportation, to financial networks, to just‐in‐time delivery systems, and so on. According to a recent study, the firmware (permanently loaded instructions) that enables these systems to run is date sensitive and not year‐2000‐compliant in less than 1 percent of the 50 billion microprocessors and microcontrollers used in embedded systems installed worldwide by the end of the twentieth century. This small fraction will fail, causing the systems they control to begin failing around 1 January 2000 and for the first few years of the next century. Presents a pessimistic, illustrative scenario, describing the disruption of essential infrastructure from electric power, to food and fuel distribution, to communications, to financial networks.



Frautschi, M.A. (1999), "Embedded systems and the year‐2000 problem (the other year‐2000 problem)", Management Decision, Vol. 37 No. 7, pp. 561-572.




Copyright © 1999, MCB UP Limited