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  •   Consumer Products and the Year 2000:
    A User's Guide

    By Eric Lipton and Rajiv Chandrasekaran
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Sunday, August 2, 1998; Page A25

    Despite dire warnings by some Year 2000 prognosticators, few household electronic devices will be disrupted by the arrival of the new millennium in 17 months, according to a Washington Post survey of major appliance and consumer electronics manufacturers of household appliances and consumer electronics. Many appliances have programmable clocks that allow a consumer to start them automatically – washing machines, ovens, dishwashers. But in most cases these clocks do not keep track of the month or year, so they will not be confused on Jan. 1, 2000.

    Some electronic devices – such as camcorders, VCRs, faxes and pagers – have internal calendars. In a small percentage of these devices, the calendar may not properly recognize the arrival of 2000, requiring resetting or repair, according to the manufacturers. But even if the calendar cannot be fixed, the device should continue functioning.

    AIR CONDITIONERS and CLIMATE CONTROL: Programmable thermostats found in most homes will not have any Y2K problems, according to officials from Honeywell, Emerson Electric Co. and Carrier Corp. Even devices that keep track of time tend to be on weekly rather than annual cycles. Window-unit air conditioners also have no problem, according to Panasonic, Friedrich Air Conditioning Co., and Whirlpool.

    AUTOMOBILES: The Big Three domestic car makers – General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Corp. – as well as Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. say none of their cars or pickup trucks have date-related problems. Most vehicles manufactured in the last decade have at least one microprocessor under the hood. But those chips – which perform such functions as triggering a "Service Car" indicator lamp – generally rely on mileage and ignition starts rather than dates.

    CAMCORDERS made since 1990 should, in most cases, operate without any complications. A small number of older camcorder models made by companies including Sony and Panasonic will operate even if the clock used to record dates malfunctions or requires resetting, company officials said.

    CAMERAS manufactured by Canon, Nikon and Kodak will function without trouble, according to the companies. Kodaks with a date stamp, for example, have a 25-year calendar built into their memory, a spokesman said.

        cell phone

    CELLULAR telephones will almost all operate properly, according to the two leading industry associations. Cellular service providers in some cases are still debugging their networks.

    DIGITAL CLOCKS AND WATCHES typically have a built-in mathematical formula that determines the day of the week and number of days in a particular month, and therefore should not be troubled by the turn of the millennium, according to Timex Corp and Casio Inc.


    COFFEE MAKERS will still brew on New Year's Day, 2000. Many of these machines can be programmed to start at a certain time, but representatives from Norelco Consumer Products Co., Black & Decker and Mr. Coffee said the appliances do not track either the week or the year.

    DISHWASHERS in some cases can be programmed to turn on automatically, but even those with a clock will not have a Y2K problem because they do not track day of the week, month or year, according to representatives from Whirlpool, Maytag and Kenmore.


    FAX machines manufactured during the 1990s generally will be problem-free. Older machines made by NEC and Panasonic, including some made this decade, may have clocks that malfunction or require resetting, company officials said.

    HOME SECURITY devices that can be programmed to turn off and on automatically should be trouble-free, according to Honeywell and ADT Security Services Inc. Some office security systems likely require Y2K software repairs.

    MICROWAVES made by major manufacturers – including Sharp Electronics, Kenmore, Kitchen Aid, Brother, Panasonic, Samsung and Goldstar – will be trouble-free, according to the companies. Clocks in the appliances do not track the year.

    OVENS that can be programmed to turn on automatically rely on computerized clocks but will not have Y2K problems because they do not track the year, representatives from Kitchen Aid, Magic Chef and Kenmore said.

    PAGERS made by Panasonic and NEC should not have problems, according to company representatives. Motorola has recently reported on its web site that "certain Motorola Pager Products shall require upgrades to be Year 2000 ready." The telecommunications networks providing pager services are still working to sure their systems will function.

    REFRIGERATORS and FREEZERS made in recent years all have automated devices that prevent frost from building up, but they are activated based on the frost itself and not a calendar, according to the Association of American Home Appliance Manufacturers.

    TELEPHONES Ordinary telephones generally will not be affected by Y2K gremlins, although phone companies are working feverishly to ensure service is not disrupted. Some phone sets with clocks, more typically found in offices, may require a software upgrade, according to Panasonic officials.

    TELEVISIONS will not black out once the ball drops in Times Square to signify New Year's 2000, according to manufacturers Panasonic, Sony and Samsung.

    VIDEO RECORDERS in some cases will require manual resetting in January 2000. Most older models should be trouble-free because they generally have only 14-day calendars. Most newer models have Y2K compliant calendars, according to Panasonic and Samsung. Music disk players should by problem-free, according to Sharp, Sony and Panasonic.

    WASHING MACHINES and DRYERS should function without interruption in the new millennium, according to Kenmore, Whirlpool and Maytag.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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