A Special Day for Geeksby Jim

Fri
13 Feb 2009
11:02 am
2

You’ll have to pardon my geekiness, but today is a very special day.  Today, at 3:31:30 pm Pacific (11:31:30 pm UTC), Unix Epoch time will reach 1,234,567,890.  It is kind of like celebrating January 1st in the year 1000, at the turn of the millennium.  So that you can more fully appreciate this special moment, let me give a brief history lesson.

You see, way back in the early days of computing (1969), some really smart guys at AT&T Bell Labs developed Unix.  Unix is an operating system (like unto Windows) that runs programs except it didn’t have a graphical user interface (GUI with mouse pointers, icons, etc. — unlike unto Windows).  A GUI was developed later, but at first it was all just command line stuff.  For geeks, this is one of the things that makes Unix fun.  Anyway, they needed a way to represent time, so they decided to use a standard integer value counting in seconds.  Therefore, at 12:00:01 AM January 1st, 1970 Unix time started at 1 and they’ve been counting ever since.

Back on Sept. 9, 2001, Unix time rolled around to the 1 billionth second since Unix Epoch (1 Jan, 1970).  The geeks over in Denmark thought this was pretty cool, so they threw a big party.  Those Europeans are really into the whole Unix/Linux thing.  Actually, I think it is more likely they are into the Anti-Microsoft thing.

So, if you read this before the big event, set your alarms and have a moment of reflection for how Unix makes the world a better place.

epoch_time

(This image was modified for demonstrative purposes.)

For those of you who want to witness this event, find your nearest Unix/Linux machine and type:

date +%s

If you don’t think you’re fast enough to get it on just the right second, you can try:

watch -n 1 date +%s

Which will display once a second, so you’re sure to catch it.

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  1. mom of multiple computer geeks ;-)
    1:57 PM on February 16th, 2009

    Well, here it is Monday the 16th and I am just reading your post, which means I missed the moment… boo hoo… I’m sure this whole family thing must have begun with your dad who was sure to remind me to celebrate when I turned a million seconds old…

  2. emijo
    9:57 AM on February 18th, 2009

    this is the coolest thing ever! :D sad i missed it, but glad i still heard about it! :D you’re my hero, jim! :D

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