30 Years from Today

30 years from today–that’s January 19th, 2038–at 3:14am, the 32-bit unsigned clocks of legacy Unix systems will roll over. They’ll read January 1, 1970.

I wrote about it here.

More serious than Y2K, since all such clocks will roll over. If you recall, with Y2K it was primarily whether the programmer used two-digit years or accounted for the 1999-2000 transition some other way.

Similarly to Y2K, only those computers making decisions based on the clock/calendar will be affected. For instance, your car won’t since it doesn’t care (or even know) what day it is.

Another similarity: we can easily categorize calendar problems from severe (loss of life) to nuisance to trivial. For instance, if some cash register receipts (or even bank statements) read 1970, that’s unlikely to cause mass insanity/hysteria.

Our best bet is that all such legacy systems will have retired by then. And that’s not too bad a bet, either.