Why Does My Gadget Say It's December 31, 1969?

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If you’ve ever had the date on a cell phone, iPod, or computer software mysteriously switch to December 31, 1969, you may have thought it was simply random. However, the answer to this question is a bit of computer trivia.

Unix, the computer operating system used on most servers, workstations and mobile devices, was launched on January 1, 1970, making that date its “epoch date.” What this means is that time began for Unix at midnight on January 1, 1970. Time measurement units are counted from the epoch so that the date and time of events can be specified without question. If a time stamp is somehow reset to 0 and displayed in local time, users will see December 31, 1969 — the day before Unix’s creation.

So how do you fix it? Simple. Just correct the date to the present time.

Learn more about Unix from Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, two of the creators of Unix.

Tech geek? Get a giggle from these Unix jokes.

November 8, 2010 - 4:18am
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