December 31, 1969: What does it mean? (12-31-1969)

If you’re having problems with 12/31/1969 appearing in your custom date fields and on mobile devices, read on to learn how you can solve this problem!
December 31, 1969: What does it mean? (12 31 1969) image

As a website owner or developer you may encounter a problem where the date data field that should contain more recent dates instead displays 12/31/1969.

But have you ever considered why this particular date always appears when there is a problem?

So, what exactly is it with 12/31/1969?

When a Unix timestamp is either empty or contains a zero value, this error occurs. Since midnight on December 31, 1969, the Unix system timestamps are integers that represent the number of seconds since that date.

These fields can lose their value due to a bug in the software, which is why you see the date 12-31-1969 instead of the value you were expecting to see.

Why the Date of December 31, 1969?

The obvious question is, “Why this date?” Even though Unix was founded on April 1, 1969, this date was chosen as the starting point for counting (though this date wasn’t actually chosen until 1972).

What is the Unix Timestamp?

Time can be measured in seconds using the Unix timestamp. The count begins on January 1st, 1970, at 00:00 UTC, the Unix Epoch. As a result, the Unix timestamp is nothing more than the number of seconds that have passed since the Unix Epoch.

It’s also worth noting that this point in time is unchanged by geographical location. Computer systems can utilise this to track and sort out-of-date information in online and client-side dynamic and distributed applications.

What is Epoch Time?

A To be clear, the term “epoch” is a  term for “Unix time 0” (midnight on January 1, 1970). It is also referred to as Unix time or POSIX time or Unix timestamp. Because epoch dates are sometimes stored as signed 32-bit integers, they could present issues on January 19, 2038.

So, what’s going to happen on January 19, 2038?

The Unix Time Stamp will stop working on this day because of a 32-bit overflow. Many programmes will need to adopt a new time stamp protocol or transition to 64-bit systems, which will provide the time stamp a “bit” of extra time.

How To Fix December 31 1969 Bug

Let’s take a quick look at how to fix the December 31st, 1969 bug. The good news is that it’s a relatively simple and straightforward process. It’s as simple as changing the date and time to match the current date and time!


  • emily gibson profile

    Emily has been a Content Writer and SEO Consultant for the last 10 years. She is passionate about helping people understand about search engine optimisation and has designed courses and materials for numerous digital marketing agencies.

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