Today, 13th February 2009, at 23:31:30 (UTC – Co-ordinated Universal Time Code) the date in Unix time, is: 1234567890.
Unix time is stored in a similar way to NTFS/Windows time. Its not an actual time, but an offset from a specific time.
Unix time, sometimes referred to as POSIX time, is the number of seconds, since midnight on January 1st in 1970.
Therefore the time at midnight on 2nd January 1970, just 24 hours later, would be 86400 (24 hours*60 minutes * 60 seconds = 86400).
The same time, the same date, 1 year later (2/1/71), would be 31536000 in Unix time. This time is used as it allows the computers to make calculations more effectively, and deal with time zone differences efficiently. E.g. When a computer is in +1 UTC then the user just inputs this information and the computer calcuates the offset from the Unix time it has stored.
Interestingly the maximum date in this form of counting, on a 32 bit Unix system is 19th January 2038, 03:14:07 (which is a Tuesday).
That’s because at precisely 23:31:30 GMT tonight (Friday), the ten-digit clock used by Unix computers – which includes the servers that run everything from the internet to air traffic control – will display all ten decimal digits in sequence.
For computer geeks everywhere, this seemingly dubious milestone deserve celebrations just like those that greeted the end of the millennium. Parties are planned around the world from London to New York, to Yerevan in Armenia and Asunción in Paraguay.
But after the brief flash of joy, comes the dread. Computer scientists fear the worst for the next major moment in Unix time – some time in the year 2038, when the Unix clock will run out of seconds it can count. On that January day, computers will fail to compute time, and crash. Your computer could shut down. Vehicles may pile up as traffic lights fail. Planes could fall out of the sky. The advice is to party now, because the digital apocalypse may soon be upon us.