'Ghost Emails' From 1969 and 1970 Receiving Renewed Attention

by

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
64 months ago
Who you gonna call? GHOST EMAIL BUSTERS!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WBRacing Avatar
64 months ago

Who you gonna call? GHOST EMAIL BUSTERS!

Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chuck Kostalnick Avatar
64 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
64 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
64 months ago
Maybe time-travellers are trying to contact us?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
576316 Avatar
64 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)

Top Stories

lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
google maps detailed street level e1611052089473

Google Maps Gains Enhanced Street-Level Detail in Four Major Cities

Tuesday January 19, 2021 2:34 am PST by
Google Maps has quietly been updated to include significantly more detailed street-level information in a handful of key cities around the world. Upon zooming in, Google's maps for Central London, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York now benefit from shapes and widths that match the scale of roads more accurately. Meanwhile, enhanced graphical representations of sidewalks, crosswalks,...
2019 mac pro side and front

Tim Cook Gifted Donald Trump 'First' 2019 Mac Pro

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:45 pm PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook gifted former United States President Donald Trump with the first 2019 Mac Pro that came off of the assembly line in Austin, Texas, according to a financial disclosure report that was released today (via The Verge). "Mac Pro Computer, the first created at the Flex Factory in Austin, Texas," reads the entry, which values the machine at $5,999, the base price for a Mac Pro....
airpods max sim ejector

AirPods Max Headband Removable With Just a SIM Ejector Tool, Hinting at Interchangeable Headbands

Tuesday January 19, 2021 8:25 am PST by
It is possible to remove the headband of AirPods Max with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a different colorway. Image via Prelook In December, MacRumors revealed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attatched and available for sale separately....
iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iphone 12 vs iphone 12 mini

Apple Shifting Some Production From iPhone 12 mini to iPhone 12 Pro to Meet Demand

Wednesday January 20, 2021 8:12 am PST by
Apple has reportedly cut production of the iPhone 12 mini by two million units to create more manufacturing capacity for the iPhone 12 Pro, according to a new Morgan Stanley investment note seen by PED30. Apple is believed to have made the switch for the first quarter of 2021 in an effort to combat continuing lead times for the more popular iPhone 12 Pro. iPhone 12 Pro lead times remain ...
Apple VR Feature

Bloomberg: Apple's First AR/VR Headset 'Pricey, Niche Precursor' to More Ambitious AR Glasses and Could Launch Next Year

Thursday January 21, 2021 3:27 am PST by
Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view...
shot on iphone 12 apple

Apple Highlights Photos Shot by iPhone 12 Users: Portraits, Cityscapes, and More

Tuesday January 19, 2021 6:05 am PST by
Apple today shared a gallery of photos shot by customers using the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, with scenes including cityscapes, landscapes, portraits of people, and more at day and night. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by "NKCHU" in China (top) and shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by Rohit Vohra in India (bottom) iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 models have a dual camera ...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple Car Production Again Linked to Kia Motor's US Plant in Georgia

Tuesday January 19, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Hyundai intends to transition the company's Apple Car involvement to its Kia brand as part of an internal arrangement that could see production move to the U.S., according to a new report today. On Sunday, Korea IT News reported that Apple and Hyundai are seeking a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, and that the electric vehicles could be made at a Georgia factory...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...