Perplexing… My notebook crashed on Friday, and I just returned to this Word document now. Word conveniently saved two versions of the document for me, including the original draft, apparently written some 370 years before I was born, and 51 years before Jan Van Riebeeck sailed to sunny South Africa.
Anyway, I did some digging (very little), and the significance of the weird date is explained on Raymond Chen’s blog here. It’s a short post, so here it is quoted verbatim:
Public Service Announcement: This weekend marks the start of Daylight Saving Time in most parts of the United States.
The FILETIME structure records time in the form of 100-nanosecond intervals since January 1, 1601. Why was that date chosen?
The Gregorian calendar operates on a 400-year cycle, and 1601 is the first year of the cycle that was active at the time Windows NT was being designed. In other words, it was chosen to make the math come out nicely.
I actually have the email from Dave Cutler confirming this.
In English, what that means is that the date is an uninitialized Win32 FILETIME structure, so the original date was somehow lost, and the Office developers didn’t test for that variable being undefined. (Hey, at least it didn’t crash. And they did correctly convert the date to a local date time for this country.)
So if you see that same confusing date anywhere, now you know…