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Solving Mac OS 8’s Y2K20 Bug

Macs weren’t affected by the infamous Y2K bug, but Low End Mac reports that Mac OS 8 and earlier do suffer from another date-based issue: the Date & Time Control Panel won’t accept dates past 12/31/2019. Even the oldest Macs can reportedly keep time until 6 February 2040 at 6:28:15 AM, but to set the time on older systems you now need to use bbraun’s free SetDate utility. With that, your classic (or emulated) Macs should be good to go for another 20 years.

Along with the Y2K bug, this Y2K20 problem demonstrates how developers often make incorrect assumptions about how long people will use their software. But the world has changed. We’re betting that the reliance on cloud services and dated security certificates will replace date math and storage as the reason modern software will fail to keep working past its freshness date.

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Comments About Solving Mac OS 8’s Y2K20 Bug

Notable Replies

  1. Does one actually need to worry about it if the computer is not connected to the internet and the only activity is to play a game or retrieve an old file?

  2. If everything is working OK on that computer, then just don’t rely on the time of day or date displayed, but there may be some apps that won’t run due to certificate issues. As stated in the article, should there be any problems, use the free utility.

  3. My understanding is that the time and date display and recording is accurate until about the year 2040.; the problem is that the last date you can reach in the settings is 2019-12-31. So, as long as you don’t need to touch the date settings control panel, you are fine for about the net 20 years.

  4. I think it is inaccurate to call this a bug as it is certainly not a bug as it was designed specifically to behave this way.

    And probably because no one in their right mind expected that ,achieves running Mac OS 8 would still be being used more than 20 years later, especially when Mac OS 9 was already in development.

    Also, it you have an NTP utility, it will set your clock correctly until Feb 2040.

  5. Having the y2k2020 problem and see that it can be solved with “Set Date” which i have downloaded , but I do not know what to do with it from there. Where are the files installed and what all is necessary to do to make it work ? Need Help on this , Thanks

  6. Now, I’m thinking that I need to boot up my Mac SE (which can dual-boot between 6.0.8 and 7.5.5) and my IIGS to see if they will continue working.

    If the date is wrong, it will be inconvenient, but probably of no consequence, but I should still take the time to find out.

  7. The downloaded file is a compressed archive. Unpack it, find the SetDate file, and drag that into the Control Panels folder within the System folder. Then restart your computer and look in the Apple menu for Control Panels and select SetDate.

    Although the author only says it works on System 6 and System 7, in fact it also works on MacOS 8.6 (and presumably 8.1) as well.

  8. Actually, you are only fine until the onboard battery dies, which is what happened to me.

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