The Fascinating 2,000-Year History of Alarm Clocks

Nobody likes alarm clocks, do they? After all, your alarm clock usually goes off when you really don’t want it to – like when you have to get up early to go to work. While many of us may use fancy sunrise alarms or even our phones nowadays, things weren’t always that way. In fact, alarm clocks have a fascinating history that spans back around 2,000 years!

Early Models

One of the very first technical alarm clocks is thought to date back as far as the year 725, created by a man named Yi Xing. However, it wasn’t just an alarm clock. This astronomical clock measured both time and the distance of planets and stars, and so he called it the “Water-Driven Spherical Bird’s Eye-View Map of the Heaven.” However, even before that, it’s thought that Plato had a water clock that would wake him for his dawn lectures in the 4th Century BCE!

The Knocker-Upper

While there were plenty of variations of mechanical clocks and alarms over the years, there were some people who didn’t want to get fancy. Instead, a knocker-upper became quite popular in Britain and Ireland during the Industrial Revolution. These people were employed, often by factories, to go and knock on people’s doors to get them up for work. Sometimes the knocking wouldn’t work, so they had to get creative using pea-shooters through the window or truncheons to bang the door.

Natural Alarm Clocks

It’s thought that long before any kind of knocker-upper or mechanical alarm clock existed, people had to get clever with waking themselves up. Some researchers believe that cave people had an ingenious way to ensure they woke up before dawn… Water. It’s thought that men and women would fill their bladders before bed, so that they woke up needing to relieve themselves. This would help them get up before dawn, in order to go and hunt or to avoid predators.

Who knew that alarm clocks had been around for so long and in so many different forms?!