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The Alarm Clock

Thomas Edison once said, “Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.” The alarm clock woke us, with a loud buzzing or beeping sound, from precious time sleeping to begin our days. Alarm clocks have certainly evolved since they were first introduced.

The very first alarm clock dates back to the 400’s BC. Plato was said to have owned a water clock, with an unknown signal, that woke him for his early morning lectures. Water clocks were used for many years. The first clock known to strike once each hour was in Damascus, Syria. It was constructed by an Arab engineer in 1154. Beginning in the 14th century, clock towers in Europe were introduced and capable of chiming on the hour. The most famous clock tower still standing is located in Venice.

Mechanical alarm clocks, set by the user, date back as far as the 15th century, but it wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that a French inventor patented the first adjustable mechanical alarm clock. In 1942 during World War II production of the alarm clock, like many other goods, ceased so that factories could be used for war work. By 1944 production was resumed for the alarm clock, because many of the clocks that were being used began to fail and men were late for their scheduled shifts for their jobs that were critical to the war effort. Pre-war designs were made as well as new designs. The first radio alarm clock was introduced in the 1940’s.


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