Taiwan isn’t ready for centenary bug

Yes, you read it correctly, centenary bug

THIS IS ONE of those things that you almost have to be a local to grasp, but Taiwan is about to be hit by an equivalent to the so called millennium bug, but in the case of Taiwan, it’s a centenary bug. What many people don’t know is that Taiwan has its own calendar and this year it’s the year 99 in Taiwan and next year it’s 100 years since the Republic of China (ROC) was formed.

The ROC was formally established on the first of January 1912 and as China used to count time based on which emperor was ruling the nation it was just natural for the nation to start over when the republic was established. In 1949 the Kuomintang as the leading party of the ROC is known as locally, or KMT for short, was kicked out of China by the Communist party of the People’s Republic of China. The KMT and many of its loyal followers fled to Taiwan and expected to be returning to the mainland of China within a few years, but as things turned out, that didn’t quite work out. As such the nation that, to most of you, is known as Taiwan is actually the Republic of China of yore and for whatever reason the KMT decided to keep its own system for counting time. (Please note that this is a simplified explanation of much more complex history.)

Taiwan’s unusual way of telling time is now getting ready to wreak havoc on many older computer systems across the island, as when computers were starting to become a commodity and installed for all sorts of business uses in Taiwan, some genius decided that no more than two digits were needed for the year indicator in software. Jump forward in time to the now and over 60 percent of local businesses could be affected by the centenary bug which would reset the time count to year one. This could cause much bigger problems than the millennium bug ever caused, although in this case the problem is unique to Taiwan.

Government run Taipower (Taiwan’s power company) has already been bit by the centenary bug which has resulted in several hundreds of customers receiving astronomical electrical bills. One customer got an electricity bill of $2.2 million, talk about getting a shock in the mail. Some 20 percent of local companies aren’t even aware of the potential of problems being caused by the centenary bug. Although this is somewhat amusing as a problem, it’s still very likely to cause some problems for the 23 million people of Taiwan over the next few months in the run-up to the New Year.S|A

The following two tabs change content below.