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VCR won’t accept date? Here’s the fix

Some VCRs won’t accept dates after the year 2000. Some old computers won’t either. But there is a creative solution so your old device knows what day of the week it is on a given date, even if it can’t handle a year after 2000.

vcr won't accept current date

If your vintage computer, game console, or VCR won’t accept the current date, here’s how to fix it.

The solution is to choose a year in the past to use instead. Years that map the date and day of week the same way are called a like year.

It’s a year that starts on the same day as the current year, and matches whether the current year is a leap year. Take 2022 for example. 2022 is a non leap year that starts on a Saturday. So are 1983 and 1994. So if it’s the year 2022 and you tell your VCR or your old computer that it’s 1983 or 1994, the date and day of week will match up. Only the year will be wrong.

You can trial and error it, do the math yourself, or use this link to quickly find the current year’s like year.

This problem is cropping up again because some devices and software solve the Y2K problem by setting arbitrary cutoffs to convert 2-digit dates to 4 digits. And some of them chose the 20s as the cutoff, assuming no one would still be using the device in the 2020s. Sometimes solving the Y2K problem correctly wasn’t possible, so they kicked the can 2-3 decades.

That could be a problem today, but since it’s probably a hobby machine, you may even find it charming, since you can probably find a year that matches the device’s heyday. And it’s better than using the default year when you turn the device on. Maybe even check out what the headlines were and what movies and music were popular on that day. Nostalgia is good for you.

Handling the new year

Keep in mind you’ll occasionally have to find a new like year. You can find a run of a few years but a leap year will throw it off eventually. 2021 matches 1982 and 2022 matches 1983. But 2023 doesn’t match 1984, because 1984 was a leap year. The closest matches for 2023 are 1989 and 1995. So if you find a like year, then notice in the next year that the dates aren’t lining up anymore, just find a new like year.

What if the current year is a leap year?

Leap years have a narrower selection but you can still find leap years that work. For example, there was no year in the 1980s that maps to 2020, but 1992 does.

So that’s how you handle a vintage computer or VCR that won’t accept the current date.

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