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
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, portable devices.
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 technology.
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 heyday.
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 clock.
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.
95/98/ME/NT4/2000/XP. Min Ram 64mb.
Download size 2.83mb
Download trial now Alarmbelle
AlarmBelle - The PC Alarm Clock
Written by William Clark