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Geekerati brace for Unix timestamp milestone

Party like it's 1234567890

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In an event that's sure to bring a burst of adrenalin to computer geeks everywhere, the official Unix calendar is about to pass a milestone: exactly 1234567890 seconds since the clock first started ticking.

POSIX is the official a widely used time-keeping method for Unix and is measured in the number of seconds that have passed since January 1, 1970 at midnight UTC (not counting leap seconds). It has since been adopted by many other computer systems.

Of course, the milepost won't touch off the kind of cyber doomsday many worried about during the Y2K transition. Then again, it does bring attention to the vagaries of an overlooked mechanism that's become the de facto standard for computers everywhere to keep time. Can this thing continue on forever with no tweaking, or will it eventually need an overhaul?

(As one commenter has already pointed out, "Systems that use 32 bit signed integers for timestamps will start to fail in 2038 because signed ints use one bit for sign, leaving 31 bits for data. 2^31 is 2147483648, or approx 68 years.")

Then there's the date of the transition: Friday the 13th. Click here for a countdown to the event, which will hit at exactly 11:31:30pm UTC. ®

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