Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their software.

Once upon a time, when Stone Age man was just oozing out of the slime, he invented the computer. It was unwieldy and not much use for killing game, but as time went on great hairy minds kept reducing the size of it until a person was able to drop it from a tree on a dinosaur's head and knock the reptile out.

Then a wise hairy man named Zilch, with a math degree from Cro-Magnon Tech, said, "There must be other uses for a computer than to drop it on a dinosaur's head. I will develop a program from mud so we can solve problems and make seat reservations when the airplane is invented."

Everyone laughed at him, but Zilch was determined. He worked day and night creating a program that would make the computer useful to society.

Unfortunately, the computer he was working with had very little memory and when asked such simple questions as "Where is Broadway and 42nd Street?" could not give an answer.

So Zilch worked out a solution. When it came to the date, let's say 2097 B.C., he dropped the 20 because everyone knew the century was 20. That saved enough memory to print out Neanderthal cellular phone bills for a family of four.

It was a brilliant move, and Zilch became the Bill Gates of the Stone Age.

As time went on--and I mean lots of time--people wrote software programs for every business in the world, including hip replacement operations and slot machines, which got more sophisticated with each generation of computers.

No one noticed that the lack of a century would have any effect on the computer system.

Hundreds of years passed without problems. Then a freshman at MIT wrote a paper for his math class indicating that all hell would break loose in 2000 B.C. because every software program in the past 50 years had been written with two spaces for the year instead of four.

He wrote, "When the computers hit double zeros at the end of their programs, or vice versa, they will revert their thinking to 2100 B.C. because there is nothing to tell them to go forward to the next century. This will wipe out the price of everything from Big Macs to Nintendo games."

The student got a D because his paper was not neatly typed. But it didn't take scientists long to realize he was right. They played games to see what would happen. A computer that was supposed to book people's rental cars in Hawaii fired a missile into Trump Tower. A Wall Street computer that had been instructed to purchase U.S. government treasury notes wound up with a million diseased chickens from Shanghai.

The president called a meeting to discuss a solution to the gravest problem the country had ever faced. His concern was that computers were the only machines essential to political fund-raising.

After talking to all the experts, the president made his decision. Every double-zero computer in the United States would be confiscated and dropped on Saddam Hussein's head in Baghdad.

It was a great plan and restored the original purpose of the computer.

I know the big question people are asking is: "Now what happens to e-mail?"

The answer is simple. You print it out, stuff it in an envelope, put on a 33-cent stamp, take it down to the post office, stick it in a box and mail it.