Time (Unix)

Time (Unix)

Convert from a date to Unix timestamp and vice versa


Have you ever thought about how the digital world keeps track of time? That long and mysterious number that seems to make no sense could be the key to unveiling one of the best-kept secrets of computing: the Unix timestamp. In this guide, I will take you into the magical world of Unix timestamps, revealing their meaning and showing you how they can be fascinating and incredibly useful.

Time Measured in Seconds

At the heart of every Unix timestamp is the concept of measuring time in seconds. Not days, not hours, but seconds. At first, it may seem strange, but it is precisely this simplicity that makes Unix timestamps so effective. Essentially, a Unix timestamp is the number of seconds that have passed since a reference date known as the "Epoch". The Unix Epoch is January 1, 1970, 00:00:00 (UTC). From that moment on, every second has been recorded and numbered.

A Practical Example

Imagine you want to record the moment you sent a message on WhatsApp. Let's say you sent the message on September 19, 2023, at 14:30:00. The Unix timestamp of this event will be a long number representing the number of seconds that have passed since January 1, 1970, 00:00:00 until that precise moment. In this case, the timestamp will be approximately 1814129400 seconds. Now, you can store or transmit this number instead of the complete date and time.

Why Are They So Useful?

You might be wondering, "Why on earth would I want to use a number of seconds instead of an understandable date and time?" Well, Unix timestamps are incredibly useful for many reasons:

  • Universality: A Unix timestamp represents the same amount of time anywhere in the world. It is a common language that does not require translations.

  • Effortless Sorting: Timestamps make it very easy to sort events. If you have a series of events and want to know which one occurred first, you simply compare the timestamps.

  • Precision: Since timestamps include seconds, they offer a very high level of temporal recording precision. You can easily calculate the difference between two timestamps to find out how much time has elapsed between two events.

A Real-World Example

Unix timestamps are used in many real-world applications:

  • System Logs: System administrators use timestamps to track when important events occurred in system logs, making troubleshooting easier.

  • Messaging Apps: Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram use timestamps to show when messages were sent or received.

  • Computer Security: In computer security, timestamps are used to track the time of system access, allowing suspicious activities to be detected.

The Magic of Conversion

An intelligent application can take a Unix timestamp and convert it into a human-readable date and time. This makes the timestamp useful even for those who prefer a more traditional display of time. The application will do the heavy lifting, translating those seconds into an easily readable date.


Unix timestamps may seem enigmatic, but they are a fundamental part of the digital world. They are universal, precise, and allow for efficient sorting and recording of events. Now that you have unveiled their secret, you can approach the world of data and temporal logs with greater confidence. Next time you see a long number associated with a date and time, you will know that it is just a small fragment of the digital time that you have learned to understand. Time, both in the real world and the digital world, never stops flowing!