Happy Unix Epoch Day!


As of 7p Eastern (or midnight GMT), the Unix time clock reached 15000 days, a significant milestone in computing history.

Age of the UniverseAge of the Universe

Our many ways of calculating the passage of time (source: totalAldo)

Unix time tracks the time since January 1, 1970. We computer geeks are used to celebrating interesting second counts, but the days count is a rarer beast. According to the Day 15000 website:

The last time we turned a 5k mark (day 10000) was May 19th, 1997, nearly 14 years ago. Entire computing paradigms and the rise and fall of operating systems happen in less than that amount of time. You probably weren’t doing what you are doing now 14 years ago, Heck, you probably weren’t even on the Net 14 years ago. So its really time to celebrate the fact that an operating system design can last for not just 14 years, but 41 years.

Local parties are encouraged and planned to celebrate this milestone.

Since the last epoch, much has happened. Here is a snippet of life back in 1997:

  • A gallon of gas cost $1.22 and movie tickets averaged $4.59.
  • The Dow Jones industrial average reached 7,000 for the first time on October 28, 1997. It would reach that level again, going the other direction, 12 years later during our recent recession.
  • Hong Kong was still under UK rule. It would be handed over to China several weeks later, giving us the main plot context for Rush Hour.
  • No rovers had yet landed on Mars. The first to touchdown and drive around the red planet was Mars Pathfinder’s Sojurner rover, which landed on July 4, 1997.
  • The Dude was not yet abiding. We still needed another year to recover from the image the Cohen Brothers gave us of Steve Buscemi being shoved into a chipper.
  • Princess Di was alive and fighting against the propagation of landmines. She would die in a car crash at the end of the summer. Her funeral would be watched by 1.5 billion people around the world.
  • Yahoo! and Altavista were the best search engines. No Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter existed.
  • No one had read any Harry Potter books. J.K. Rowling published the first one on June 30.
  • Batman was being played by George Clooney, and Pierce Brosnan played James Bond against a super-villain with miraculous typing skills.
  • Microsoft becomes the world’s most valuable company at $261 billion and promptly gives us Internet Explorer 4.0. On August 6, MS rescues Apple with a $150 million investment, not long after Steve Jobs returned to the company.
  • Tiger Woods had one major golf title on his resume. On June 15, he would be the top-ranked golfer, in only his 42nd week as a professional.
  • Evander Holyfield still had all of his ears intact.
  • MCI Communications Corp., one of the key figures in the breakup of AT&T, still existed. In the fall, WorldCom announced the largest merger is history, a $44 million purchase. The MCI name disappeared entirely when the company was bought by Verizon in 2006.
  • Scotland didn’t have its own Parliament. It got one on September 11, a date that would be co-opted by American tragedy four years later.
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