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
107 months ago
Who you gonna call? GHOST EMAIL BUSTERS!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarpalMac Avatar
107 months ago
Who you gonna call? GHOST EMAIL BUSTERS!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chuck Kostalnick Avatar
107 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
107 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
107 months ago
Maybe time-travellers are trying to contact us?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
576316 Avatar
107 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)

Popular Stories

iPhone 16 Pro Max Generic Feature 2

5 Biggest Changes Rumored for iPhone 16 Pro Max

Tuesday May 21, 2024 7:29 am PDT by
Given Apple's rumored plan to add an all-new high-end tier to its iPhone 17 series in 2025, this could be the year for Apple to bring its boldest "Pro Max" model to the table — the kind of iPhone 16 upgrade that stands tall above its siblings, both figuratively and literally. If you have been holding out for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, here are five of the biggest changes rumored to be coming...
iOS 17

Apple Releases iOS 17.5.1 With Fix for Reappearing Photos Bug

Monday May 20, 2024 10:11 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 17.5.1 and iPadOS 17.5.1, minor updates to the iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 operating system updates that came out last September. The 17.5.1 updates come a week after the launch of iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5. iOS 17.5.1 and iPadOS 17.5.1 can be downloaded on eligible iPhones and iPads over-the-air by going to Settings > General > Software Update. According to Apple's...
maxresdefault

iPhone SE 4 With Face ID Said to Be Priced Below $500

Monday May 20, 2024 3:43 am PDT by
Apple is targeting a sub-$500 starting price for its upcoming fourth-generation iPhone SE model despite a raft of rumored upgrades coming to the more affordable device. According to leaker Revegnus on X, the U.S. launch price of the fourth-generation iPhone SE will either remain at the same $429 starting price as the current model, or will see an increase of around 10%. Either way, Apple's...
microsoft surface pro qualcomm

Microsoft Says New Surface Pro is Faster Than 15" M3 MacBook Air

Monday May 20, 2024 3:19 pm PDT by
Microsoft is going all in on AI, today introducing a series of Copilot+ PCs that have AI-focused hardware. The new Surface Pro is one of the first Copilot+ PCs, equipped with Qualcomm's Arm-based Snapdragon X Elite processor. Microsoft is already pitting the Surface Pro against Apple's M3 MacBook Air, and in marketing materials, claims that the Surface Pro has superior processing power and...
iPhone 15 Pro Cameras

iPhone 16 Pro Max to Feature New 48MP Wide and Ultra Wide Cameras

Tuesday May 21, 2024 3:36 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone 16 Pro Max will boast a bigger main camera sensor while both iPhone 16 Pro models will feature a 48-megapixel Ultra Wide camera for the first time, claims a rumor coming out of Asia. According to Weibo user OvO Baby Sauce OvO, the main camera of the iPhone 16 Pro Max will be based on an advanced custom 48-megapixel Sony IMX903 sensor. In contrast, the iPhone 16 Pro will use...