Oh Internet nerds, I love you because I’m one of you. But even I had to look up this 1234567890 meme that’s been bouncing around. If you’ve been wished a “happy 1234567890” or other similarly obtuse numerical greeting by your sysadmin, IT consultant, or Tweeting tween nephew, they’re just celebrating a milestone in the Unix calendar system.
Calendars are based on arbitrary start dates anyway, and in this case, Unix has been counting the seconds since January 1, 1970 and translating the results into our calendar when needed. That fateful 1234567890 chimed at 3:31:30PST, ushering in an excuse for all to raise a glass. By the time you read this, time will have moved on, but for a fleeting second, Unix-based PCs–including Linux and Mac OS X–certain ATMs, air-traffic control, and other Unix devices all shared a knowing wink.
They’ll be happy until the 32-bit system rolls over and needs another digit in 2038. Then we’ll all be doomed.
Zack Stern is a freelance technology writer and editor based in San Francisco.
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