Unix Time Stamp: what it is and what it is used for

The time measurement that passes is essential in any computer application. So much so that not only was the need to create protocols initially felt synchronization date and time as NTP (Network Time Protocol) but this same mechanism has now become obsolete for high-profile companies that need to detect and record, with extreme accuracy, the current time. Meta, for example, replaced NTP with PTP (Precision Time Protocol) to obtain time synchronization that is even close to the nanosecond.

We have also seen how much the anomalies in the date and time management can cause significant damage. In the case of Windows, for example, we focused on the emblematic case of the Secure Time Seeding functionality.

Unix Time Stamp: A universal approach to measuring time

With the expression Unix Time StampUnix time, Epoch Time, refers to a universally used method of representing time, regardless of time zone or geographic location. This universality it is essential when managing data on a global scale or when you need to compare and synchronize information from different parts of the world.

Unix Time Stamp is based on the concept of measuring time number of seconds elapsed from January 1, 1970 00:00:00 UTC to the current date and time. The approach is really simple and effective allowing access to a uniform way to perform date and time operations on computer systems. This simplicity makes it easier to manipulate time in software applications and helps avoid complications related to different date and time conventions.

If you have wondered why, often, by removing the buffer battery of a device the system – by default – shows midnight of January 1, 1970 as the date and time. That date is precisely the starting point for the representation of time in systems Unix and many other computer systems.

Many Web services,APIs and communication protocols use the Unix Time Stamp to represent time information. This standardization facilitates the exchange of temporal data between heterogeneous systems. Furthermore, the calculations are particularly easy, because the addition or subtraction of time intervals is reduced to a simple mathematical operation.

How to calculate the Unix Time Stamp

To determine the Unix Time for a specific date, you can use programming tools or libraries that handle date and time operations. For example, in many programming languages, Unix time can be obtained by resorting to simple time management functions. For example, the following Python code allows you to obtain the Unix Time for the desired date and time:

from datetime import datetime, timezone
# Definire la data e l'ora desiderate
data_ora_desiderate = datetime(2027, 1, 15, 8, 0, 0, tzinfo=timezone.utc)
unix_time = int(data_ora_desiderate.timestamp())
print("Unix Time calcolato:", unix_time)

However, it is possible to achieve the same result with any programming language or using an online tool like this service: just type the date and time to get the corresponding Unix Time Stamp.

If you use a browser like Google Chrometry visiting any web page and then pasting the following into the address bar:

var unixTimestamp = 1700000000;var data = new Date(unixTimestamp * 1000);var dataLocale = data.toLocaleString();alert("Unix Time: " + unixTimestamp + "\nData e ora locali: " + dataLocale);

Before pressing the Enter key, add javascript: in front of the code shown, at the beginning of the content of the address bar.

Unix Time Stamp JavaScript

You will get exactly what is shown in the figure. In the example, we asked to convert the Unix Time Stamp 1700000000 in the corresponding local time. Obviously you can replace this value with any other of your choice.

On November 14, 2023, the “suggestive” Unix Time 1700000000 was reached: exactly 1.7 billion seconds have passed since the historic January 1, 1970. The next “significant” Unix Time is set for January 15, 2027 at 9 am Europen when a Unix time equal to 1800000000 is reached.

Relevant epoch time

To make it clear how important Unix Time is, just think that just a few years ago it was necessary to update the Linux kernel to avoid the bug of the year 2038. The programs that use interi a 32 bitin fact, can handle numbers between -2147483648 and 2147483647 (232). This value corresponds precisely to January 19, 2038, at 4 pm in Europe. It’s easy to check this with an online service or the codice JavaScript presented previously. This is why the developers took action to avoid any problems when reaching the indicated date and time.


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