Why did America screw the dates up?

Those of us who program for a living, need to work with dates on a regular basis.

Dates according to the ISO standards should be represented, transferred and stored in the following 2 formats.  YYYY-MM-DD or YYYYMMDD. There are 2 reasons for this.

  1. Its impossible to confuse the month and day component
  2. dates are stored and sort and collate correctly without any smart logic or intelligence

Why then would Americans feel the need to store dates in the following format mm-dd-yyyy. Now we have a vast array of confusion in the market place, and date ambiguity all over the place. Sometimes if you’re importing just a few dates, its impossible to tell which is which, without knowing the storage format in advance. 03/01/2009 – is the 1 March 2009 according to the yanks, and the 03 Jan 2009 according to the rest of the educated world. So What can be done?

Well to be clear, unfortunately its not just the yanks who transgress logic, its also the following countries, I suspect mainly due to American influence.

Belize[133]
Canada (Although most official documents use the yyyy-mm-dd format, the mm/dd/yy format is also understood due to influences from the United States.)[134]
Federated States of Micronesia[135]
Kenya[136]
Palau
Philippines (when written in English)[137]
Puerto Rico[138]

Those of us working with dates need to be as strict as possible to avoid ambiguity, don’t just accept any input format, ensure that it arrives in true ISO standard where ever possible.

One thought on “Why did America screw the dates up?

  1. Why can’t humankind stick to any sort of standard? Metric vs Imperial, yyyy-mm-dd vs yyyy-dd-mm.
    Now I ask you – Which of the two sets is a more logical and intelligent choice: Metric & yyyymmdd or Imperial & yyyyddmm?

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