Lockheed to get aid on computer snag Company makes deal with N.J. firm to fix 'Year 2000 problem'

March 08, 1997|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,SUN STAFF

Lockheed Martin Corp. has entered into an unusual deal to use a New Jersey company's system for finding and fixing the so-called Year 2000 problem in Lockheed's computer systems, then buying the right to sell the same technology to its federal government clients.

The problem is fixing untold millions of lines of computer code that will be thrown for a loop at the turn of the century because most older computer programs use only two numbers, rather than four, to denote the year in a given date. These programs read the year "00" as 1900, not 2000, raising fears that the onset of the 21st century will cause literally millions of miscalculations.

Mountain Lakes, N.J.-based Computer Horizons Corp. said it cannot yet put a value on the deal because Lockheed's computer systems are so big it will take several months just to figure out the size of the Bethesda defense contractor's internal problem. The company estimates that Lockheed Martin alone will have to check, and potentially fix, hundreds of millions of lines of computer code.

"This has the potential to be one of the largest [Year 2000] deals in the U.S.," Computer Horizons Vice President David Reingold said. "It's so large you can't size it right away."

Computer Horizons has other big customers for its package of software and services to address the 2000 conversion, including Chase Manhattan Corp. and Prudential Insurance Co. of America, Reingold said. The element that sets this deal apart is that Lockheed is a major information-services vendor and will be allowed to resell Computer Horizons' system.

"They're a major contractor in the federal marketplace," Reingold said. "For a government contractor to make such an investment in my tool kit shows it's as robust as anything else out there."

The announcement this week made Computer Horizons' stock, which had been lagging lately, look pretty robust as well. The shares rose more than $4 after the announcement late Wednesday, closing yesterday at $33.50.

Lockheed Martin officials couldn't be reached yesterday. In the statement announcing the deal, Lockheed Martin Enterprise Information Systems President Joseph R. Cleveland said the company is committed to identifying and fixing any Year 2000 problems by mid-1998.

Pub Date: 3/08/97

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