Ancient Greek History

Plato Likely Had the First Alarm Clock

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Socrates and Plato statuesMost of us use an alarm clock without even thinking about it. We set the alarm so that we can wake up and go to work. We might wake up to do our chores or because we have an appointment. Without it, many of us would stay in bed too long, which would make us completely unproductive. Have you ever stopped to consider where the first alarm clock came from? Many trace its development to Ancient Greece. Here’s more information about its origin:

First Known Alarm Clock is Traced to Plato

In fact, even if you tried to picture it, it might not be what you think! The first known alarm clock can actually be traced to Ancient Greece and was owned by Plato, a famous philosopher whose ideas are still studied today. Because of all his accomplishments, one can certainly imagine that waking up early in the morning would be important to him!

Plato seems to have owned a large water clock, which was a popular style of clock back in Ancient Greece. They work by using water to control the passage of time. His clock, however, had an added feature. It was set to chime once in the early evening (presumably to signal the beginning of a lecture) and once at dawn, likely to make sure he was awake and ready to start his day.

Ctesibius Made the Alarm Clock More Efficient

Plato’s alarm clock couldn’t really be changed without modifying the entire structure of his water clock. The Ancient Greek engineer, Ctesibius, understood that in order for the device to be truly useful, it needed to be programmable. He made modification to the standard water clock with a dial and pointer, which were designed to indicate a certain time. At the time indicated on the dial, pebbles would drop onto a gong, thus signaling the alarm.

For the first time that we know of in history, people could control what time they woke up. By simply turning the dial and pointer, the alarm clock would go off at whichever time it was set to.

The Modern Alarm Clock

Ancient alarm clocks certainly looked much different than they do today! As the watch and clock industry changed, so did the alarm clocks. When we need to set our alarms, we have a choice between setting the clock on our smartphones, using a clock radio, or using an older, analog alarm clock that doesn’t even need batteries!

Over the years, various inventors have made contributions to the industry, but none have compared to the contributions that the Ancient Greeks have made. Without them, the whole idea of the alarm clock would be nonexistent.




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