Friday, October 02, 2009

No need for alarm

As I tweeted earlier, I must be watching too many crime shows. My neighbor's alarm went off at 5:30 and continued to beep, presumably long after I left the house at 9:30. My first thought was not, "Oh, he went on vacation and forgot to turn off the alarm," but rather "OMG, my neighbor has been murdered! I hope someone finds the body before it starts to smell." Of course, I wasn't really worried about that or I would have phoned the police. But it did get me thinking about alarm clocks. They are so annoying. When was it decided that we needed clanging bells, beeps and buzzers to wake us up? What was wrong with the lightening of the morning sky or the crowing of a rooster? Well, I know what was wrong with those things--the industrial revolution came along and people, who lived in cities and nowhere near a crowing rooster, had to get up before the sun, not to mention the graveyard shift. Still, I wondered about the humble alarm clock. Fortunately, there is a website (isn't there a website for everything?) that answered all my questions. The first bedside alarm clock was patented in 1876 by the Seth Thomas Clock Company. I've always been a Westclox gal, myself. Who doesn't love the Big Ben? I have a lovely gentle alarm clock--the Moonbeam--which is actually a replica of the original made by Westclox back in the 1940's. It just flashes a bright light and doesn't make a peep unless you fail to turn off the light.

My parents had the predecessor to the modern digital alarm with numbers that flipped down. It had a radio and a reading light, too. I loved watching and waiting for the panels to fall and reveal the new number.

If you, too, are curious about the history of the alarm clock, click the link.


Anne-Marie said...

Very cool. I love that my alarm clock projects the time onto the ceiling (IF you live in a house with a flat roof, its not likely to work at the new place) but I hate that if i dont turn it off it gets louder and faster and goes on for longer and longer.

Funky Muffins said...

Oh! Man, I had this digital alarm clock that no one wanted when great grandma died: it was at one time white plastic but it had gone deep yellow with age and cigarette smoke. It was about a foot long and maybe four inches high; huge by today's clock standards. No radio, just digits that were made from almost inch high yellow lights. They weren't even notched at the tops and bottoms like every modern segmented LED display. They were just bold yellow bars. You set the time by spinning a wheel that made the numbers advance as fast as you could spin, and the alarms were set by little geared wheels. Man, I'd love to know how that thing worked. It was like some mechanical digital monster. The best was on the right of the time was a pinwheel that spun constantly. There were no settings on it, no nothing. It was hypnotic, and that was maybe why it was there. What a cool clock. Hi. I love clocks.

Also, in case anyone's curious: why do clocks snooze at nine minutes?

My alarm clock has a settable snooze which I think is essential in keeping me on my toes.