The Clock


Who invented the Clock? The name of the person credited with inventing the pendulum Clock is Christiaan Huygens (1629 - 1695). Christiaan Huygens is not only famous as the Dutch inventor of the Clock but also as a mathematician, scientist, astronomer and diplomat. When was the pendulum Clock invented? Christiaan Huygens invented the pendulum Clock in 1656, during the Renaissance period of inventions (1350 to 1700).

This article provides a history timeline of all other timekeeping devices including Shadow Clocks, Sundials, Timesticks, Water Clocks, Candle Clocks, the Hourglass, Mechanical Clocks that led to the invention of Pendulum Clocks and beyond.

Definition of the Clock: The Clock is defined as a mechanical or electrical machine or device for measuring time, indicating the hour and other divisions by means of hands moving on a round dial plate or by displayed figures. Its internal mechanism or 'works' are moved by a weight or a spring, and often features the stroke of a hammer on a bell to tell the hour. Unlike a watch it is not adapted to be carried on the person.


Facts about who invented the Clock


 Inventions and Inventors Index


Fact File about the Invention of the Clock: Invention: Clock *** Date of Invention: 1656 *** Name of Inventor: Christiaan Huygens *** Lifespan of Inventor: 1629 - 1695 *** Nationality of Inventor: Dutch *** Historical Period: Renaissance (1350 to 1700) *** Category: Science *** Country of Origin: Holland *** Facts about the Inventor, Christiaan Huygens,and the invention of the Clock ***

Fact 1: Who invented the Clock? The pendulum Clock was invented by Christiaan Huygens in 1656 during the Renaissance era of inventions (1350 to 1700).

Fact 2: Who invented the Clock? The word clock derives from from Medieval Latin word 'clocca', meaning "bell".

Fact 3: Who invented the Clock? Prior to the invention of the pendulum Clock in 1656, there was a long history of timekeeping devices including shadow clocks, the water clock, the candle clock, the timestick, the hourglass and the sundial.

Fact 4: Who invented the Clock? Shadow Clocks: The monumental stone column Obelisks were set in pairs, at the entrances of temples and are a famous symbol of the Ancient Egyptians. The Obelisk symbolized the sun god Ra and also used as shadow clocks to track the movement of the sun throughout the day to keep track of time. The Ancient Egyptians also went on to invent a smaller shadow clock, in the shape of a small notched rod, the first portable timepiece ever made.   

Fact 5: Who invented the Clock? The Sundial: The Sundial used the shadow of the sun to indicate the time of day. The shadow is cast on the surface of the sundial that is marked to show hours, or fractions of hours, of the day. The sundial was believed to have been independently developed by the Ancient Egyptians and the Mesopotamians c.1500BC.

Fact 6: Who invented the Clock? The Timestick: The Shepherd's Timestick worked on the same principles as sundials, based on the relative amount of daylight during the different months of the year. The Timestick was turned to the Sun so that the shadow falls directly down the scale.

Fact 7: Who invented the Clock? Water Clocks: The Water clock, also known by its Greek name clepsydra, used the flow of water with the change in water level to measure time. Water clocks were first used by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and the Mesopotamians as an alternative to clocks dependent on sunlight.

Fact 8: Who invented the Clock? Candle Clocks: The earliest reference to the use of candle clock occurs in a Chinese poem by You Jiangu (520 CE) but candle clocks were found in many other countries in the Ancient World. Uniform sized candles, marked into 12 sections each of one inch, were placed in protective cases. Each candle completely burned away in four hours, each mark represented 20 minutes.

Fact 9: Who invented the Clock? The Hourglass: The Hourglass was another device for measuring time, that consisted of two glass chambers, connected by a narrow passage, that contained a quantity of sand, that slowly trickled from the upper chamber to the lower chamber in a fixed amount of time, usually one hour.

Fact 10: Who invented the Clock? Mechanical Clocks: The invention of the first mechanical clock is credited to the Chinese scientist and inventor Su Sung (1020 - 1101 AD) in 1092. Su-Sung's huge clock stood 40 feet high and was powered by a special water wheel. Buckets around the rim of the water wheel were filled, one at a time, by a steady flow of water. When a full bucket was heavy enough to trip a mechanism, it fell forward and the bucket behind it moved into place under the water spout. The weight of the buckets exerted enough force to activate all sorts of wonderful displays. Displayed at the center of Su-Sung's mechanical clock was a large, bronze celestial globe that measured 4.5 feet in diameter. A host of mechanically-timed and rotating miniature Chinese figures passed through opening doors to announce the time of day by ringing bells, banging gongs or beating drums.

Fact 11: Who invented the Clock? Mechanical Clock: Mechanical clocks were relatively simple devices driven by weight or, more specifically gravity. Different types of Mechanical clocks began to appear in Europe during the 1200's. In 1286 mechanical figures, called automatons, that struck a bell on the hour were installed in St. Paul's Cathedral, London.

Fact 12: Who invented the Clock? Clock Jacks: The Mechanical clocks drove the mechanical to announce the hour by ringing a bell. In many cases a figure of a wooden man-at-arms struck the bell and were given the name of 'Jack'. Clock Jacks announced the time by ringing bells, however, the figures became more wondrous such as the those at Wells Cathedral. The Wells clock, that is still working and in use today, features four knights tilting at the joust and the Quarter Jack bangs the quarter hours with his heels.

Fact 13: Who invented the Clock? Faces ands Dials: The first mechanical clocks were striking clocks, there were no clock faces or dials. People then realized that wheels could be used to drive an indicator on a dial on the outside of the clock towers, where they could be seen as well as heard. A rotating dial was added to mechanical clocks and a fixed hand, literally shaped like a hand, indicated the hour by pointing to numbers on the clock face.

Fact 14: Who invented the Clock? Watches: The coiled spring was invented in 1450 making portable clocks possible and the first watches were made in 1510.    

Fact 15: Who invented the Clock? The Pendulum Clock: In 1581 the Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642) noticed that a pendulum swings at a constant rate. In 1656, fourteen years after Galileo's death, Christiaan Huygens invented the pendulum clock, which he patented in 1657. Prior to its invention, timekeeping was only accurate to about fifteen minutes a day.

Fact 16: Who invented the Clock? The inventor of the pendulum clock, Christiaan Huygens, was born on April 14, 1629 in The Hague, Netherlands and died on July 8, 1695.

Fact 17: Who invented the Clock? The early years of Christiaan Huygens were spent in The Hague, Netherlands where he was raised by his wealthy Dutch family. Christiaan Huygens received an excellent home education and went on to study law and mathematics at the University of Leiden.

Fact 18: Who invented the Clock? Christiaan Huygens devised the pendulum clock to solve the problem of finding longitude at sea, because he intended his clocks to go on board a ship, where the rolling motion might easily topple them, he had placed two 100-pound weights inside their case to keep them stable.

Fact 19: Who invented the Clock? Christiaan Huygens built a prototype of the pendulum clock at the end of 1656. A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely. The pendulum of a clock is a rod with a weight at the end which swings from side to side in order to make the clock work.

Fact 20: Who invented the Clock? The advanced technology he used to invent the pendulum clock reduced the loss of time by clocks from about 15 minutes to about 15 seconds per day and were lauded as the best timekeepers for use on land. Christiaan Huygens later devised a watch regulator called a balance spring.

Fact 21: Who invented the Clock? In 1673 Huygens published "Horologium Oscillatorium sive de motu pendulorum", his major work on pendulums and horology (the art of designing and making clocks).

Fact 22: Who invented the Clock? Christiaan Huygens died on July 8, 1695 but he will always be remembered as the inventor of the clock.

Fact 23: Who invented the Clock? Electric Clock: In 1840 Alexander Bain, a Scottish clockmaker, was the first to invent and patent the electric clock which used a pendulum that was kept moving by electromagnetic impulses. He patented his invention on 11 January 1841.

Fact 24: Who invented the Clock? Quartz Clock: Pendulum clocks remained the most accurate timekeeping pieces until the 1920s, when quartz oscillators and quartz clocks were invented. The first quartz clock was built by Warren Marrison and J. W. Horton at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Canada. The battery in quartz clocks sent electricity to the quartz crystal through an electronic circuit.

Fact 25: Who invented the Clock? Atomic Clock: Atomic clocks were invented in 1949 and are now the most accurate time keepers in the world. Atomic clocks are regulated by the resonance frequency of atoms or molecules of certain substances, as ammonia or cesium.

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