When using older VCRs the built-in clock/calendar does not cover the current and future years.

If you have an older VCR machine that you want to keep running, the trick is to find a year within the range that the machine understands, that has the same calendar as the current year. There are only 14 different calendars in the Gregorian system: 7 for non-leap years, and 7 for leap years.

So there are bound to be years within the range of the machine that have the correct calendar for any non-leap year. The only real problem is leap years, since the machine’s range is liable to include too few of these.

The workaround for this is to use two different alternative years in a leap year: one for the first part up to the 28th of February, and another for the part from the 1st of March onwards. For the 29th of February, you’ll have to fudge it; perhaps use the same year as the 28th, but pretend the 29th is “March 1st”.

The following table lists alternative years that have the same calendar as the desired years, or parts thereof:

Desired Year
Alternative Year
To Feb 28
From Mar 1
2005 1994
2006 1989, 1995
2007 1990, 2001
2008 1991, 2002 1997, 2003
2009 1998
2010 1993, 1999
2011 1994,2005
2012 1989, 1995 1990, 2001
2013 1991, 2002
2014 1997, 2003
2015 1998
2016 1993, 1999 1994

It turns out that it’s not until 2020 that you can reuse an actual leap year, namely 1992. In fact, in 2017, you can set the year to 1989, then simply let it run on from there (becoming 1990 in 2018 and so on), and the calendar will remain correct until 2032 (corresponding to 2004).