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Much like we use B.C.E and A.D, in the Star Wars universe they use B.B.Y and A.B.Y, standing for Before Battle of Yavin and After Battle of Yavin respectively.

But what date system had the galaxy used before the events of Episode 4?

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The Star Wars universe has a long history. As you might expect, there have been a number of different dating systems used throughout that time. Wookieepedia mentions several possible dating epochs. The main alternative that I'm familiar with is the date of the Treaty of Coruscant (3653 BBY), which was used for quite some time, with dates being given BTC and ATC. This is the calendar used in the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO.

Wookieepedia also remarks on the change in dating system:

In 25 ABY, the New Republic commissioned the New Republic Historical Council to re-standardize the Galactic Calendar. The historical council chose the Battle of Yavin, instead of the Battle of Endor, calling the former the more significant galactic event. From that point on, the year in which the Battle of Yavin occurred was the epoch used for the dating system.

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