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Poll: Most say Y2K bug isn't a disaster looming

Most Americans think computer glitches expected with the arrival of the year 2000 will cause minor problems at most, but almost half of those asked in a poll think air-traffic control systems will fail, putting airline passengers at risk.

About a third said they expect major problems because of the programing problems computers may have adapting to the change to 2000. That number is down from 48 percent in June who expected major problems.

Just more than half of the people responding in the poll, released Thursday, said they are at least somewhat concerned about the effects of the programing problems that could be related to the change in the calendar.

And 46 percent said they think the so-called Y2K computer bug is likely to cause air-traffic control systems to fail. But 52 percent said this was unlikely to occur and 2 percent had no opinion.

About two-thirds, 65 percent, said they will get special confirmation of bank account balances, retirement funds or other financial records, according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll.

But only a fourth said they will stockpile food and water in preparation for the new millennium.

The Y2K problem arose when programers of early computers represented each year by its last two digits rather than by all four _ for example, 1972 as 72 _ mostly to save computer memory.

Trouble begins when computers try to add or subtract dates using that two-digit format and the world approaches 2000, or 00.

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