Following the recent January 1, 1970 iPhone bricking bug, a different long-standing issue related to Unix time and emails is gaining renewed attention, as highlighted by The Telegraph.

The non-malicious glitch has been gaining new traction online recently, with some iOS users sharing screenshots of their devices receiving emails from December 31, 1969 or January 1, 1970. The glitch has been reported by users on both iPhone and iPad as well as Android devices, with those users noting that the messages in question have no content, subject line, or sender, and can not be interacted with.

january 1970 twitter email

The ghost email issue has been reported for many years, and rather than a harmful attempt to infiltrate an iOS device -- or lead users down a path to the January 1, 1970 bug -- it is simply a misrepresentation of the correct status of Unix time. Some cases of the ghost email are showing up when users are traveling to a different time zone, temporarily causing a glitch in communications between mail servers and a few email clients, including the stock iOS Mail app and even Microsoft's Outlook iOS app.

The emails often appear when iPhone users are checking their emails in a different timezone. January 1, 1970 represents 0 in UNIX time – the way that computers often understand times and dates. One Reddit user who reported it appeared to be using Microsoft's Outlook app.

Every second since midnight on January 1 1970 is a different point in UNIX time (we’re currently at around 1.45 billion). So when an email is sent without any time data, or a timezone bug means it can’t be interpreted, the iPhone will default to zero – 1970.

With the issue causing emails to show up with timestamps of midnight GMT on January 1, 1970, users in the Western Hemisphere see dates of December 31, 1969 on their ghost emails due to timezone offsets.

The issue can sometimes be fixed by simply closing the email app and reopening, while others have found success with subsequently performing a hard reset on the device (pressing down the Home and lock buttons until the iPhone or iPad restarts). The more notable January 1, 1970 date bug bricked iPhones with a date manually set to May 1970 or earlier, and Apple will be fixing the issue with its forthcoming iOS 9.3 update. In comparison, the ghost email reports -- which include a long list of affected users -- are simply a nuisance.

Top Rated Comments

soupcan Avatar
74 months ago
Who you gonna call? GHOST EMAIL BUSTERS!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarpalMac Avatar
74 months ago
Who you gonna call? GHOST EMAIL BUSTERS!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chuck Kostalnick Avatar
74 months ago
"UNIX was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things."

— Doug Gwyn
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arubinst Avatar
74 months ago
Who you gonna call? GHOST EMAIL BUSTERS!
I just got home after a long day at work and, for some reason, I can't stop laughing at your post.

Thank you for that! :)
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dilster3k Avatar
74 months ago
Maybe time-travellers are trying to contact us?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
576316 Avatar
74 months ago
Had this exact email pop up a couple times. Always wondered what that was about. I like the idea someone else had, time travellers are trying to get our attention.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
airtag in hand

Apple Enhancing AirTags Anti-Stalking Measures With Android App and Shorter Sound Intervals

Thursday June 3, 2021 11:10 am PDT by
Apple is enhancing AirTags security to prevent stalking using the Bluetooth devices, Apple told CNET today. Apple is already sending out over-the-air updates to AirTags that will shorten the amount of time before an unknown AirTag alerts you if it is in your possession. At the current time, AirTags play a sound after three days of being away from their owner. After the update, AirTags will...
maxresdefault

Here's How Apple's New iPhone to iPhone Data Migration Feature Works in iOS 12.4

Tuesday July 23, 2019 1:20 pm PDT by
Apple this week released iOS 12.4, the newest version of iOS 12 available for iPhones and iPads. One of the new features in iOS 12.4 is an updated data migration option that uses device to device transfers rather than relying on iCloud. Apple didn't provide much information on the new data migration feature, so we thought we'd check it out in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the ...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
macos catalina legacy system extension alert

Apple Begins Warning Users That 'Legacy System Extensions' Won't Work With a Future Version of macOS

Wednesday March 25, 2020 9:53 am PDT by
Apple has shared a new support document that indicates kernel extensions — which it calls "legacy system extensions" — will not be compatible with a future version of macOS because they "aren't as secure or reliable as modern alternatives."System extensions are a category of software that works in the background to extend the functionality of your Mac. Some apps install kernel extensions, which...
os x mountain lion macs 16x9 2

Apple Makes OS X Lion and Mountain Lion Free to Download

Wednesday June 30, 2021 12:19 pm PDT by
Apple recently dropped the $19.99 fee for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, making the older Mac updates free to download, reports Macworld. Apple has kept OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion available for customers who have machines limited to the older software, but until recently, Apple was charging $19.99 to get download codes for the updates. As of last week, these updates no...
airtag precision finding

AirTag Includes U1 Chip for 'Precision Finding' Feature

Tuesday April 20, 2021 12:11 pm PDT by
Apple's long-awaited AirTag was finally unveiled today, and as expected, the small circle-shaped accessories can be attached to items like wallets, keys, and more to allow them to be tracked in the Find My app. As was rumored ahead of release, each AirTag is equipped with a U1 chip, and on devices that also have U1 chips, there's a Precision Finding feature. U1 Ultra Wideband chips are...
iOS 15 General Feature Yellow

Everything New in iOS 15 Beta 6: SharePlay Disabled, Safari Redesigned and More

Tuesday August 17, 2021 2:12 pm PDT by
Apple released the sixth beta of iOS 15 just a week after the fifth beta, but the new update brings some of the most significant tweaks that we've seen to iOS 15 during the beta testing period. Safari Redesign Apple in iOS 15 beta 6 has added a toggle to move the Safari address bar to the top of the interface, which returns Safari to an iOS 14-like design and mitigates all of the Safari...
m1 macbook air

Kuo: Mini-LED MacBook Air Coming in Mid-2022

Thursday July 22, 2021 7:48 pm PDT by
Apple will release a new version of the MacBook Air around the middle of 2022, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in note to investors seen by MacRumors. The upcoming MacBook Air will feature a 13.3-inch mini-LED display, which would make it the second Mac to gain mini-LED technology after the 2021 MacBook Pro, which is rumored to include a mini-LED display and is expected to launch later ...
2016 macbook pro flexgate b

Apple Faces Another Class-Action MacBook Pro ‘Flexgate’ Lawsuit

Thursday August 20, 2020 6:43 am PDT by
Another class-action complaint has been lodged against Apple, which claims that the company was aware of a MacBook Pro design flaw that caused some devices to have backlight display issues (via Apple Insider). The so-called "flexgate" problem was present in some MacBook Pro models manufactured between 2016 and 2017. The problem appears as dark patches along the bottom of the MacBook Pro's...