Eternal September

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In Usenet slang, Eternal September (or the September that never ended)[1] began in September 1993,[2] the month that Internet service provider America Online began offering Usenet access to its tens of thousands, and later millions, of users. Before then, Usenet was largely restricted to colleges and universities. Every year in September, a large number of incoming freshmen would acquire access to Usenet for the first time, and would take some time to become accustomed to Usenet's standards of conduct and "netiquette". But, after a month or so, these new users would either learn to comply with the networks' social norms or simply tire of using the service. However, for the existing userbase, the influx of new users from September 1993 onwards was a new and endless manifestation of the phenomenon.

This was in part because the new internet service providers such as AOL made little effort to educate their users about Usenet customs, but it was also because of the large-scale and seemingly endless intake of new users. Whereas the regular September freshman influx would quickly settle down, Usenet's existing culture did not have the capacity to integrate the sheer and endless number of new users, and so they overwhelmed the network's existing social norms.[3]

Since then, the rise in popularity of the Internet has brought on a constant stream of new users. Thus, from the point of view of the pre-1993 Usenet users, the influx of new users in September 1993 never ended. The term was used by Dave Fischer in a January 26, 1994, post to alt.folklore.computers, "It's moot now. September 1993 will go down in net.history as the September that never ended."[4]

In homage to the term, one news server, formerly named,[5] now calls itself Eternal September and gives the date as a running tally of days since September 1993.[6]

A tongue-in-cheek program called sdate outputs the current date, formatted using the Eternal September calendar (September X, 1993, with X an unbounded counter for days since the beginning of that epoch).[7] This should not be confused with the identically named sdate, one of the sixty commands that came with the First Edition of Unix, that was used to set the system clock.[8]


  1. ^ Eric Raymond. "September that never ended". The Jargon File (version 4.4.7). Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  2. ^ "The Year September Never Ended" net.wars Chapter 1, Wendy M. Grossman, NYU Press, 1998. Archived June 26, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "The Making of an Underclass: AOL" net.wars Chapter 3, Wendy M. Grossman, NYU Press, 1998.
  4. ^ Dave Fischer (January 26, 1994). "Weeks? hah!!". Newsgroupalt.folklore.computers. Usenet: Retrieved 2007-03-23. 
  5. ^ will Become on July 1, 2009
  6. ^ "". 
  7. ^ "Never Ending September Date -". 
  8. ^ "sdate(1) - Unix First Edition Manual Page". 

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