Little Bits of History

Spring Forward – Fall Back

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2011

Daylight Savings Time

March 31, 1918: Daylight Savings Time [DST] goes into effect for the first time in the United States. Most of the world is not bothered by this phenomenon today. The world is divided into three types of time keepers. Those who use DST, those who have never used DST (much of Africa and Indonesia], and those who no longer using DST [China, India, Egypt, much of South America]. The use of the time change is mostly in the Northern Hemisphere’s high latitudes.

The idea was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson. He was an London-born New Zealand entomologist and astronomer. Much of the electricity of the time was used to light homes in the evening. It was hoped that extending the daylight hours into the evening would lessen electrical usage. Today, with lights, heating, and air conditioning usage, this savings is no longer seen. There is, however, more daylight for sporting events after the workday is completed. It may also encourage more evening shopping excursions.

DST was first used in 1916 by Germany and its World War I allies. The hope was to reduce coal usage. Britain and some allies soon followed suit. Russia waited until 1917 to join in and the US waited even one year longer. How we reckon time is a human construct. The sun rises and sets as it sees fit throughout the year. Manipulating when the daylight is visible can be accomplished by simply changing the time. However, in order to keep the calendar intact, the clocks must at some point be adjusted backward. So in the Fall, we set clocks backwards an hour.

There are benefits and drawbacks to the time switch. Energy use was supposed to be a major reason for the change, but there has been no consistent finding with study after study each showing something different. Retailers and sports concerns find it advantageous to have extra daylight in the afternoon and evening. There have been mixed results to studies concerning public safety and DST with some saying it saves lives, while others show different results. There are effects on health and sleep patterns being disrupted and the issue of having to remember to actually change the clocks twice a year. There are also concerns in the computing world with programming needed to affect changes with the machines.

“Chinese buildings are like American buildings, with big footprints. People don’t care about daylight or fresh air.” – Helmut Jahn

“Don’t forget it’s daylight savings time. You spring forward, then you fall back. It’s like Robert Downey Jr. getting out of bed.” – David Letterman

“I don’t mind going back to daylight saving time. With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I’ve saved all year.” – Victor Borge

“Love prefers twilight to daylight.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Also on this day:
Equality – In 1886, Abigail Adams pleads with her husband to include women as voting adults.
Eiffel  Tower – In 1889, the French tower was inaugurated.

Time Savers

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 9, 2010

What time is it?

February 9, 1942: The US puts Daylight Saving Time into effect. The purpose behind changing the clocks is to make more efficient use of the daylight hours. We move the hour of sunshine from morning to evening by moving the clocks ahead.

The advantages are twofold. The first one is obvious. It saves energy because less electricity is used in the evenings when most people are home. Approximately 25% of electricity use is for lighting and running small appliances and since it is light later into the evening, fewer lights are lit. The second advantage? There are fewer traffic accidents because more people are driving while it is still light.

The disadvantages are having to set your clocks twice a year. Getting used to the time change can also take a few days. The other major problem occurs when there is not a uniform move to DST by the entire world or even the country.

Benjamin Franklin was the first to propose moving the clocks to adjust to a more economical use of the daylight hours in 1784. It did not catch on. In 1907 a pamphlet entitled “Waste of Daylight” written by William Willett was published. Europe moved to Summer Time, another name for Daylight Saving Time in the 1910s, at which time it was optional in the US. In 1918, several time zones were established for the US. During the Second World War, the time was changed for conservation and called War Time. Arizona and Hawaii do not observe the time change even now.

“The only thing a golfer needs is more daylight.” – Ben Hogan

“I don’t mind going back to daylight saving time. With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I’ve saved all year.” – Victor Borge

“Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug.” – unknown

“I once made love for an hour and fifteen minutes, but it was the night the clocks are set ahead.” – Garry Shandling

Also on this day, in 1964 The Ed Sullivan Show brought The Beatles to the US.