FW: Question about: TWiki.org Service: Date and Time Gateway

Rich Wales richw at richw.org
Tue Feb 15 19:36:02 UTC 2005

The Bell Labs people who originally developed UNIX were in the US and
were thinking in terms convenient to North American locations (i.e.,
a positive integer value representing minutes west of GMT made sense
because all of the US is west of Greenwich).

By the time anyone dreamed that Bell Labs' modest creation would give
rise to a family of OS'es that would one day span the entire globe,
the original time zone sign convention was cast in concrete, and no
one dared try to change it to something that made more logical sense
for fear of breaking countless existing applications that depended on
that early decision made by a handful of American developers in the
early 1970's.

Traces of the confusion which UNIX created over the time zone sign
issue can probably also be seen in RFC 822 (the 1982 Internet e-mail
format standard), which allowed the conventional one-letter military
time zone designators but mixed up their meanings by getting the
signs wrong.

Rich Wales            richw at richw.org            http://www.richw.org

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