These days we have phone alarms, clocks and even alarm clocks that won’t go off until you solve a puzzle. All to help us overcome the sluggishness that wakes up every morning.
But how did people start their day before the first alarm clock was invented in 1787?
Native American warriors used their own bladders to wake themselves up. According to Stanley Vestal’s 1984 book Warpath, the story is told by Chief White Bull that “Indian warriors could pre-determine their wake-up time by adjusting the amount of water they drank before going to bed“.
In modern times, candlelight is mainly used for romantic dinners or as a temporary solution when there is a power outage. However, before there was electricity, candles had many different uses. Candles are an important source of light, they can be attached to chandeliers or carried in brass stands for illumination. Its wax can be used to seal correspondence for security purposes or stamp approval.
Candles can also be used as alarm clocks – a function that is said to be obsolete in the modern world, but an important part of the history of timekeeping.
Candle clocks are an ancient technology. The first record of this tool is in 520 BC in a poem by You Jiangu, the Chinese. He described it as consisting of six identical candles of equal weight and thickness – each nearly 20 centimeters high.
The candles are marked on the body. Each marked piece will take 20 minutes to burn and an entire candle will burn for 4 hours – a perfect technique for times when there’s no sunlight.
Other documents about candle clocks also show it to have existed in Japan during the first millennium AD. Thousands of miles away, King Alfred the Great of England is also said to have used this method in churches in England. Candles of any size can be used, as long as they burn out evenly. Through signals, candles can be broken down for more incremental measurements of the passage of time.
This method of telling time remained in use until at least the 18th century, despite the increasing appearance of traditional self-winding watches. In addition to telling the time, candles can also act as an alarm clock.
One can attach nails to a candle for a desired length of time and place the candle in a metal holder. When the wax melts at the desired rate, the nail will fall into the metal base with a click and act as an alarm.
A famous example of a particularly complicated candle clock is that of Al-Jazari — a 12th-century Muslim engineer. Famous for his inventions of water pumps and clocks, he created one. Candle watches use a pulley and weight system that turns the candle’s continuous burning into readable time on the front dial. This advanced system is just one of many of the inventor’s watches – he also designed watches that run on water to track stellar movements.
Candle clocks are one of the diverse types of inventions of ancient civilizations. There are also methods that appear much earlier in the historical record. The ancient Egyptians used sun and water clocks as early as 1500 BC to measure time. Called clepsydra, the water clocks were also used by the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Africa. Oil lamps are also used for lighting and measuring time; As the oil burns, time can be measured in increments just like with a candle clock.
Watchmaking made great strides in the late Middle Ages. Driven by the physics of the movement of springs and pendulums, clocks improved in accuracy in the 17th century. Christiaan Huygens’ pendulum clock of 1656 was an amazing step forward, as each day only deviated. have a minute. As mechanical watches were further developed, watch manufacturers used clever innovations to create alarms at set times.
Some meters used gunpowder and fuses to make a loud noise at a certain trigger time. Others use light – springs work to light up a bright candle. Like candle clocks, these primitive alarm solutions are very likely to cause fires, perhaps when the house burns down, people who don’t want to wake up have to try to get up.