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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Mac OS 8’s 2020 problem

Did you know that the Date & Time Control Panel in Mac OS 8 (released in 1997) will only let you set a Mac’s date to a range between January 1, 1920 and December 31, 2019? As LowEndMac reports:

Back in the late 90s many of us on the Mac web wrote about how our Macs were Y2K compatible, and that there wasn’t any need to worry because even the oldest Macs are capable of keeping time until February 6, 2040 at 6:28:15 AM. The biggest problem that we have is that the Date & Time Control Panel will not let you set dates past 12/31/2019. But fear not, there is good news. Thanks to a wonderful developer out there known as bbraun, there is a utility that will allow you to set the date and time on your Classic Mac all the way up until the last second: SetDate.

The OS 8 Mac itself can conceive of dates beyond 2019, but can’t set them. Fortunately, there’s a utility (linked above) that will do the job, so you can keep using Macs running OS 8 with the proper date set. Though every time I use an old Mac (or emulate one), I can’t help but personify the little guy and wonder what it must be thinking about running in the far future. It’s a real Goodbye Lenin situation.