Maine Y2K Glitch Issues Vehicle Registrations for Horseless Carriages

A Year 2000-related glitch in the Maine computer system responsible for issuing vehicle titles earlier this year designated 2000 model cars and tractor trailers as "horseless carriages," a term reserved for vehicles from earlier this century.

The glitch affected about 2,000 vehicle titles, and the banks and lending institutions that received the misprints found them quite humorous, said Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky. "It took us about 15 minutes to reprogram the system, and we have printed tens of thousands of Year 2000 titles since without a problem."

The problem occurred because the state had not fixed the system that manages titling information before requesting a print job involving 2000 titles. When Gwadosky's department sent over a tape, the system at the Maine Bureau of Information Services, which actually prints the titles, read the "00" as 1900, instead of 2000, and kicked out the horseless-carriage designation, which is used to refer to vehicles from years prior to 1916, Gwadosky said.

The state completed testing the systems responsible for driver's licenses and registrations by Jan. 1, when renewals began crossing over into 2000, but pushed back the titling system to April for testing because department officials did not anticipate receiving requests for 2000 titles in the first few months of the year, Gwadosky said.

Gwadosky had no explanation as to why the April error was just now receiving national exposure, including a brief in the Washington Post, but said the appeal is that "it's a tangible thing and an example of what can happen" from a Year 2000 glitch.

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