THE ALARM CLOCK
The earliest form of alarm clock was probably
a big guy standing by a sundial waiting to shout: Oi - wake up!
Alarm is defined as a state of fear or heightened anxiety and
comes from old Italian all arme - all arm - a call to arms. Nature makes wide
use of alarm calls. The raucous shriek of angry birds echoes
through every jungle alerting of danger. In any back garden a
stalking cat can be thwarted by the shrill cries of a startled
worm-puller. The cowboy guiding his wary pony across the prairie
pulls up short at the warning quiver of a deadly rattlesnake -
carrying its own alarm in its tail.
Humans have adopted and adapted many ways of providing alarms.
Early man kept barking dogs to alert of approaching danger.
Through the centuries guards blew horns, lit hill top beacons,
sent smoke signals, flashed mirrors, fired gunshots, rang church
bells and shot rockets to alert the tribe or army. Or just
danced up and down.
Awareness of time and the need for a predictable alarm combines
to produce the alarm clock. The farmyard cockerel with its
regular, dawn-welcoming cock-a-doodle-doo is nature's
man-adopted alarm. Good enough if you are a peasant farmer
living in harmony with the seasons but what if you need more
accuracy? The big guy shouting probably gained promotion to the
more genteel brass gong and hammer, but try carrying your
portable beacon or church bells around whilst squinting up at
the sun. You'll soon see the need for precise, practicable,
To get your alarm at the right time it is necessary to measure
time's passing. Early awareness of time comes from the rising
and setting of the sun and the passing of the seasons. The sun's
arc in the sky can be subdivided into hours, minutes and
seconds, and clocks mimic and measure this using the available
First came the simple shadow clock that refined into the sundial
in 1500 BC Egypt. The importance of the regular flooding of the
Nile must have heightened the Egyptian's awareness of time and
the clepsydra water clock developed around 1400 BC. This is an
impressive device using the steady rate of flow of water out of
a cistern. The sand clock, 1500 BC, and still in use today in
the form of an egg timer, used the flow properties of sand. The
simple candle clock relied on the reasonably steady burn rate of
wax to show the passing of time. But a bit of a problem on windy
days. And not much use when guarding the pass in a storm!
The first mechanical clocks, using a system of gears for
escapement, originated from the robed and pigtailed people of
8th century China. Falling-weight-system clocks were used in
pious, praying, 14th century Europe; and the mid-15th century
saw spring-driven mechanisms develop. The structural style was
greatly influenced by church architecture. In the 16th century
the efficient Germans emerged as leading makers of spring and
weight-driven clocks. Enter the egg. The Nuremberg egg that is.
Had a German inventor finally cracked it? It was the expensive
and exclusive "must have" till someone succeeded in flattening
it with coiled-spring drive and balance-spring regulator. Thus
emerged the "fob watch and chain" of your great-grandfather's
Victorian pomposity and chains across the beer belly prompted
the nickname for some quaffers of foaming-tankards of "chains
and slavery". They might have looked impressive but by the
1880's fashionable wristwatches had developed. Tired of the
wind-up era, the 20th century electronic watches caused a buzz
in the early 1960's. By '69 the vibrating quartz crystal
provided the accuracy, and liquid crystal display the digital
output, for mass-produced fashionable watches and clocks.
Tickling a quartz crystal with an electric current makes it
vibrate at a precise, steady, high frequency that can be passed
through an integrated circuit and used to drive the watch or
The development of the pendulum clock by the Dutch in the 17th
century had enabled accuracy to be increased which became
important for finding longitude. Sixties' swingers proclaiming
free love and ban the bomb organized their day with
ultra-accurate atomic-regulated time. Atomic bombs were
definitely alarming but the idea was to wake up before they went
off. Developed in the UK in 1955 and accurate to one second
every 3 million years they use the fixed oscillation rate of the
nucleus of a caesium atom. Wow!
You couldn't plan a trip to the moon with granddad's best
wind-up watch but Armstrong's hop on the green cheese involved
the fantastic accuracy and timing of the computer age. Computer
clocks have an oscillator to determine the timing of activities
inside its central processing unit. Microprocessor clocks
operate in MHz with one MHz equaling 100 million oscillations
per second. Impress your granny with that!
And so we arrive at the all-singing all-dancing PC alarm clock -
keen and eager to start your PC, stop your PC, schedule your
uploads, downloads, file launches and order the tea. The very
last word in timekeeping excellence... But you can still see big
blokes by their screens shouting: OI -- WAKE UP!
AlarmBelle - the beautiful alarm. Style with
action. Avoid missed appointments, birthdays, functions... All
the features you would expect and more. Includes stopwatch with
times recording, timer and handy metric converter. Simple to use
- hard to beat. Make this your alarm clock of choice.
Min Ram 64mb. Download size 2.83mb
Download trial now Alarmbelle
The PC Alarm Clock
Written by William