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History of Timekeeping II

Where would we be during a game of Scrabble or party word games without the hourglass that kept track of everyone’s time? How far back does the alarm clock date in history? In this article, you will encounter more early methods of time keeping, including the oldest clock still in working order in the world.

Hourglass (12th century)

Today, the hourglass helps measure time for board games, but in the past, monks measured the timing of their prayer sessions by using an hourglass that was similar to what we know as an egg timer. The hourglass measured the passage of a few minutes or an hour of time when a regulated trickle of material (like sand) moves between two connected vertical glass bulbs , from the top to bottom. Once the top bulb is empty, the hourglass is inverted to start the timer all over again.

Different measurements of time were achieved by varying the size of bulb, amount of sand, width of the neck, and the quality of the sand. The hourglass was also referred to as a sandglass, sand timer, and sand clock.

First Clock with Dial (1325)

The first clock with a dial was installed in 1325 in Norwich Cathedral in England.

Clock Strikes Hours (1335)

Ten years later, a clock that announced the individual hours was made in Milan, Italy.

Alarm Clock (1350)

To date, the oldest known alarm clock to have survived over the years was made in Wurzburg, Germany.

Home Clocks (1364)

The first time that clocks became a fixture in households was in 1364.

World’s Oldest Clock (1386)

In 1386, a clock was installed in Salisbury Cathedral in England. It is now known as the oldest clock still in working order in the world.

Watches (1462)

When tracing the history of the watch, the earliest description of such an item was written in Italy in 1462.

Pendulum Clock (1641 and 1657)

It was the son of astronomer Galileo (Vincenzio Galilei) who proposed the idea of a pendulum clock , a timekeeping device that used a swinging weight (called a pendulum). This type of clock gave the benefit of a device that offered precise timing internals. However, it wasn’t until 1656 or 1657 that the first pendulum clock was made in Holland.

Watches with Hands (1665)

It was around 1665 when the first watches to have minute and second hands made their first appearance.

Marine Chronometer (1759)

Thanks to John Harrison, the marine chronometer was invented. This allowed people to keep accurate time while at sea, which helped calculate positioning. Achieving this kind of time keeping was difficult because of the rolling of ships.

In the last article in this history of time keeping installment, you will encounter information regarding wristwatches and the first quartz crystal clock.