Precise date of Millenium

Markus G. Kuhn kuhn at
Mon Jan 6 23:00:44 UTC 1997

In message <32D16CDA.424F at>, Eric Ulevik wrote:

> The obvious time to celebrate is when the calendar rolls over:
> January 1 2000. This is when most of the world will celebrate.
> (It is also when some computer systems might have some problems).
> Otherwise, the argument is that there was no year zero
> in the Julian calendar, and we should celebrate after 2000 years.
> Thus 1 January 2001. But people forget that the Gregorian calendar
> skipped a number of days, so this is wrong!
> So if you wish to be pedantic, please celebrate on 1 January 2001
> on the Julian calendar, which is 14 January 2001 Gregorian.

This is one of the frequently discussed topics on the net these days
(and has been over the past 10 years during which I have been watching).
You can find dozens of these threads with <URL:>.

In many senses, the discussion is futile as various definitions of
the century and its roll-over have their justification. At least for Germans,
Chancelor Kohl (Ph.D. in history) has defined in some interviews that
the next millenium will start at 2001-01-01 (in the context that the German
Mark will be replaced by the Euro with the beginning of the next millenium,
something that causes already MUCH more software engineering work than the
year-2000 problem).

The real question is not when some counting system rolls over, but when
is the right time to party.  And the most intelligent answer I have heard
on this so far is of course to party on all occations: 2000-01-01,
2001-01-01, 2001-01-14, etc.  Therefore, I see the job of time and calendar
experts to flood the media with many weired suggestions of when the right
time for a new-millenium-party might be, to maximize their number.

COBOL reverse engineering experts will certainly party on 00-01-01,
Unix system administrators will wait until their epoch overflows 
2038-01-19 03:14:08Z (signed 32-bit int) or 2106-02-07 06:28:16Z
(unsigned 32-bit int).

BTW: Hasn't Arthur C. Clark's HAL its birthdate in a few days?


Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Science grad student, Purdue
University, Indiana, USA -- email: kuhn at

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