Kopec Explains Software
Computing concepts simplified
2 months ago

#45 Two Software Disasters

The Boeing 737 MAX Crashes and the Y2K Bug

While software has reduced human error in many industries, when software errors are made they can have tragic consequences. The Boeing 737 MAX crashes, occurring shortly after the introduction of the plane, were due in part to a software error in a flight maneuvering system called MCAS.

Some software developers in the 20th century chose to use 2 digits to represent each date, which led to the Y2K bug when the year hit 2000. They saved 1 byte per date, but systems that used 2 digits would roll dates from 1999 to 1900. Mitigating the problem cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

We discuss whether these software disasters were software errors, human errors, or some combination of the two. We also discuss the follow-up to the Y2K issue, the upcoming 2038 bug.

Show Notes

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