Clocks are a staple part of modern life; in fact, we quite literally live our lives by them. However, with clocks added as apps and widgets to modern tech, and cheap alarm clocks able to be purchased for pence, we definitely take these essential tools for granted.
In this article, we'll be giving the humble clock its spotlight and will be exploring why clocks are so important by taking a trip to the past and learning the origin of timepieces and the essential role they had to play in the formation of our modern lives.
When Was the First Clock Created?
Since the dawn of time, man has felt the need to measure the passing of time, and the most obvious way to do this was worked out by the Ancient Egyptians, who used the movement of the shadows created by the sun to figure out the time. Ancient Greeks and Romans also adopted this method in the form of a sundial, but of course, this method had one major drawback; it couldn't work at night.
This issue was solved by the development of the water clocks by the Zhou Dynasty and the invention of candle clocks which were used across the world from England to Mesopotamia. These devices both worked on a similar principle and measured the time it took for either water to pass through a container or a candle to burn down to a specific marker. The natural progression of these devices was the hourglass.
While these devices did have some degree of accuracy and were beneficial to the aristocracy, most commoners relied on their internal body clocks and the principle of working during daylight and resting during nighttime.
The First Modern Clocks
Of course, items such as sundials and hourglasses left much to be desired in terms of accuracy and consistent timekeeping. What is deemed to be the first modern clock was created in 1510 by a German locksmith by the name of Peter Henlein. These clocks used mechanical mechanisms to count and keep time, and his Pomander Watch was the first mechanical watch ever recorded in history. It functioned exactly like a modern watch with 12 hours on the dial indicated by a hand. These early clocks were all hand-crafted, so were very expensive and therefore, the reserve of the elite, and it wasn't until 1885 that the international system of units set GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) was introduced.
The 1800s saw the introduction of mass production of clocks, though these were still very expensive, and most common people couldn't afford one in their homes. However, the needs of the industrial era required workers to be up and in the factories at specific times, so the Victorians came up with an innovative solution to this by effectively creating a human clock. Known as a knocker-upper, these were people whose job it was to keep track of time and wake streets of people at the appointed hour by knocking on their window.
Why is the Clock an Important Invention?
So the question remains, why is the clock an important invention. Well, without clocks, we wouldn't have modern industrial life as we know it. Clocks gave everyone throughout the country a uniform time no matter their location, allowing for the coordination of workforces and increased profit and productivity. By effectively managing the populace, a social routine was formed, many rules of which we still adhere to today, such as the concept of the 9-to-5 job. Without the humble clock, society would lose a large amount of its structure and would be almost unrecognizable to the world we're used to today.
How Are Clocks Continuing to Help People?
Clocks are one of the few old inventions which still have important and essential value today. Whether you like it or not, we live our lives by the time we sleep at a certain number, rise at another, eat at specific times during the day, and so on. Without clocks in our lives, we'd never know when the next train was set to arrive or when our next meeting was. We'd struggle to all gather in one space at one time, such as for work or social settings, and important services such as hospitals would struggle to give patients quality care due to medication timings and more.
Yes, the form of the humble clock has changed, from big grandfather clocks, to mantle clocks, pocket watches, plastic alarm clocks, analog to digital, and more, but one thing is definitely certain; timekeeping using a 12-hour or 24-hour clock system isn't going anywhere, and we'd be in chaos if it did! So next time you check the time, give a little thankyou to inventors of the clock such as the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Locksmith Henlein because your life wouldn't be the same without it!