What Time Is
time is it? When did this question become so important? Did
man always have a system for keeping time? Were there always
timekeeping devices people could use to know the time? The
history of time can be fascinating as can the history of
timekeeping devices. Many sites on the internet have
information about old clocks and watches and many museums
have collections of timekeepers. The TimeKeepers resource
will help you learn more about some of the timepieces used.
a little history.....
the late 16th century wearing a watch became more common than it had
been in earlier times. The need for timekeepers, especially personal
timekeepers became more needed as the industrial activity spread
across Europe. Although timetables for some services such as courier
mail delivery and the delivery of cargo or transportation of
passengers by coach existed, there was no commonly accepted time
standard during the 16th and 17th centuries.
countries or towns may have even begun their days at different
times, times which coordinated with the sun. Some began their days
at sunrise, while others began a new day at midnight, sunset or
noon. There was what was termed "Italian" time which
divided the day into 24 hours and "German hours" or
"French hours" which marked time into two periods of 12
hours each. (The later system was much easier on bell ringing
clocks.) Anyone traveling abroad needed a conversion table in
addition to a timekeeper in order to know what time it was at their
need for time standardization in business brought more localities to
embrace the pattern used today which marks time from midnight to
midnight with 12 AM or morning hours and 12 PM or afternoon hours.
Even though this standardization was developing, many localities
continued to mark their personal non-business related time based on
local customs using the sun times they had always used.
wasn't until the 19th century when the railroad came into play that
there was a perceived need by the populace to have standardized time
established between localities and countries. With earlier forms of
transportation it might have taken one or more days for travelers to
reach their destination and so the local time discrepancies were not
too important. A timekeeper called a "coach watch" might
have hung inside the coach passengers rode in and it would be reset
when arriving at a locality with a different time. Often these coach
watches were equipped with an alarm so travelers would not
oversleep. With the trains traveling so much faster than land
coaches, people needed to have a way of knowing when they would
begin or end their travel and when the trains would be arriving at
all the stops on their routes. This need helped lead to the
establishment of regional and national time zones.
the end of the 19th century and early into the 20th century, the
push for standardization of time went global and international
agreements were established. The invention of the telegraph allowed
the railroads to instantly send an exact hour and minute from the
central office to every station on the line. This technique was
first used to give precision to train timetables by the London and
North Western Railways. This eventually led to the recommendation in
1847 by the British Railway Clearing House that each railway company
adopt the Greenwich time at all their stations.
there were railroads there soon after developed standard times. This
prepared the way for a single national hour as a reference point for
the time within a country. The United States ran into difficulty
because of the large expanse of land but this was solved in 1883
with the establishment of time zones. Later, time zones were set up
with international agreements to partition the entire earth. The
base measurement or zero longitude was set at Greenwich.
Only the French held out and decided to mark their zero longitude at
a Paris observatory. But in 1911, France also shifted to using
standardization of time it became possible for it to be measured
more accurately and eliminate the confusion regarding time in
everyday life activities. This made clocks and watches much more
necessary to individuals. One room school houses gave way to large
buildings with many classrooms and large numbers of students needing
to move between classes at predetermined times. Businesses grew and
industrial operations had many shifts of workers and areas where
knowing the time became increasingly important. The clocks you will
find included in this resource will help you find out about many of
the different timekeepers and the ways timekeepers have been used
Electric Program Clock is an example of a clock which helped
schools and industry with the important task of being able to answer
the question, "What time is it?"
information above and other articles or online resources about the
topic. Many sites are listed below.
different types of clocks. List dates and types of timekeeping
devices. Develop a time line of the timekeepers (clocks) you
find.You may want to use the TimeLiner software by Tom Snyder to
develop your time line..A resource to help you is a "Brief
History of Clocks" or three
slide shows which take you on a historical tour of time.
Include the Frick Clock on your time line.
what might have been the problems encountered if a way to
standardize time had not been developed world-wide or even across
the United States.
question - How have timekeepers (clocks) helped our world?
the standardization of time kept accurate today? Are there special
clocks used to help with this? Which agencies help?
information and much, much more is from:
Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World by
David S. Landes
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Massachusetts.
tour of time at http://www.timexpo.com/
and travel through links to solar time, time zones, atomic time, and
more about the measurement of time.
Clocks, Watches and Timekeeping at http://www.horology.com/hs-histo.html
includes links to informationation about famous clockmakers, history
of timekeeping standards and much more
Select seconds, hours, minutes, days or years and what you want to
convert them into. Input the number of your selection to convert and
Service Department U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington, DC. The
Department of the Navy serves as the country's official timekeeper,
with the Master Clock facility at the Washington Naval Observatory.http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/time.html
There is a link here to a U.S. Time Zone Converter and to the USNO
of Clocks: From Thales to Ptolemy at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/GreekScience/Students/Jesse/CLOCK1A.html
gives information from very Greek times including a drawing of the
water clock and celestial sphere.
Time at http://www.ubr.com/clocks/default.aspx
/has links to history, clockmaking, publications organizations,
newsgroups,museums and more dealing with time topics.
Institue of Stanards in Boulder, Colorado, at http://www.boulder.nist.gov/
has information you might find useful as you discuss the need for
standarizing time measurement. The FAQ page
has some interesting information about general time questions such
as "When does the next millennium begin?" and "How is
the second defined?"
Millennium Article covers information on the Millenium Dome
Greenwich.Greenwich England is where East meets West at the
Greenwich Meridian (0¡ Longitude); World Time is set Greenwich Mean
Time . The Millennium Dome was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth
II on December 31, 1999. But remember that the millennium doesn't
officially begin until 2001.