When Were Alarm Clocks Invented?

when were clocks invented

If you want to know the time today, it’s very easy for you to look at your phone or watch and know it immediately. Then, you can simply set the alarm using your phone or just wind down your clock. 

But have you ever taken a step back and thought about what year alarm clocks were invented? This article talks about when alarm clocks were invented, along with a brief overview of how they evolved. Read on to know more about it!

What Were Alarm Clocks Like Before They Were Used For Waking Us Up?

The first-ever alarm clock appeared around 500 BC and was used by the Egyptians. This device was called a ‘shemu,’ which is basically a clapper that would be hit against the wood to create noise at daybreak. The shemu had a known sound that would repeat at sunrise.

In Ancient Greece, people used to place water clocks inside sealed containers, which were designed to soak a certain amount of sand from one container into another. Unfortunately, this altered the weight of the containers so much that it sent an electric signal to a bell, waking up anyone who was still asleep.

mechanical alarm clock

The First Mechanical Alarm Clocks

In the 13th century, a Chinese engineer named Su Sung was the first person to design a mechanical clock that could provide timekeeping for over 200 years. This clock also had an escapement mechanism, which would keep time by counting the swings of a water clock. In 1279 AD, these devices could be found in the palaces of those who ruled China.

In Europe, around the same time, alarm clocks were also being designed. In 1335 AD, an Englishman named Peter Lightfoot patented a mechanical alarm clock that could send signals to a bell to wake people up. This device would use a hammer striking at a rope wrapped to a wheel inside a barrel.

In the 15th century, as mechanical clocks were becoming more and more popular, alarm clocks began to wake people up from their sleep. However, these devices were usually huge and bulky, making it hard to function properly in a smaller space. This type of clock became widely used during this period, and people would put them in their bedrooms.

What was The First Modern Alarm Clock Design?

In the 19th century, alarm clocks began to be designed with a more modern look that was much easier to travel with and use. These devices were smaller than ever before and came with designs that anyone could recognize easily. 

Back then, these clocks had a bell hook, which allowed the clock to hang from a wall on a bedside table. It featured a pull-down chord that would ring on this metal hook, and people would wind it every night before going to sleep.

The first alarm clocks with cords used for travel also made their debut during this period. In 1876, Henry Pitney created an alarm clock that a crank could wind. The minute the bell rang, it would turn off automatically.

In 1887, another inventor introduced a modern alarm clock design in the US Patent and Trademark Office for travel use. This clock is considered to be the first-ever portable alarm clock. 

Finally, in 1891, a German inventor created the first-ever electric alarm clock for home use. This device would be considered a breakthrough in technology because it was powered by alternating current (AC) and not by winding springs.

What is The Latest Alarm Clock Design?

In 1950, George Nelson designed a clock with a modern look easy to travel with. This clock was available around 1955, and people loved it so much that they began using it both in their homes and offices.

Today, alarm clocks still feature the same design as this one did back then, but they can also be used with different types of technology. For example, most smartphones today have a set of built-in alarm clock apps, which people can use for their daily routines. 

Smartphones can provide light and sound alarms without using an actual alarm clock. Also, more modern brands like Casio and Timex still produce the older type of traditional alarm clocks.