What Data Type Is Timestamp?


Larry Thompson

When working with data in programming, it is important to understand the different data types and their properties. One commonly used data type is the timestamp. In this article, we will explore what a timestamp is and how it is represented in programming languages.

What is a Timestamp?

A timestamp is a value that represents a specific point in time. It typically consists of both a date and time component. Timestamps are often used to record when an event occurred or to track changes in a system over time.

Example: “2021-07-15 14:30:00”

Representation of Timestamps

In programming, timestamps are typically represented as either numeric values, strings, or specific objects. Let’s explore each representation in more detail:

Numeric Values

A common way to represent timestamps is using numeric values, often measured in milliseconds or seconds since a specific reference point known as the “epoch.”


  • In JavaScript: 1626363000000 (milliseconds since January 1, 1970)
  • In Unix/Linux systems: 1626363000 (seconds since January 1, 1970)

String Representation

In some programming languages, timestamps are stored as strings in a specific format. The format can vary depending on the language or application being used.


  • In Python: “2021-07-15T14:30:00Z”
  • In MySQL: “2021-07-15 14:30:00”

Timestamp Objects

Several programming languages provide specific data types or classes to represent timestamps. These objects often offer various methods and functionalities for working with and manipulating timestamps.


  • In Java: java.util.Date or java.time.LocalDateTime
  • In PHP: DateTime or Carbon

Working with Timestamps

Timestamps are frequently used in programming to perform operations such as:

  • Comparing dates and times to determine order or duration
  • Converting between different time zones
  • Formatting timestamps for display purposes
  • Parsing user input into timestamp values

Each programming language provides various libraries, functions, and methods to handle these operations effectively.


A timestamp is a valuable data type that represents a specific point in time. It can be represented as numeric values, strings, or specific objects depending on the programming language being used. Understanding how timestamps are represented and how to work with them is crucial for developing applications that involve time-related functionality.

To summarize:

  • A timestamp represents a specific point in time.
  • Timestamps can be represented as numeric values, strings, or specific objects.
  • Programming languages provide various libraries and functions for working with timestamps.

By mastering the concept of timestamps, you will be better equipped to handle time-related tasks in your programming projects.

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