When Was The First Clock Invented?


723 A.D., the very first mechanical clock was invented in the 8th century. There have been quite a few variations of clocks before the invention of the mechanical clock, but whenever a person refers to ” A Clock “, they are mostly reffering to mechanical clocks. And hence the answer to the question ” When Was The First Clock Invented? “ The complete answer to this question is that the first mechanical clock was invented in the 8th century in 723 A.D. However if by this question you mean the first time keeping device then the answer to this question would be entirely different as we as a species started off defining time for the very first time by using the sun. And hence the earliest timekeeping device known to mankind was dated back to 1500B.C and were known as the sundial

Who Made The First Clock?

I-Hsing, The very first clock refers to the first mechanical clock and it was invented by a monk and mathematician I-Hsing in 723 A.D. This was an astronomical clock and was called the “Water Driven Spherical Birds-Eye-View Map of The Heavens”. Only after a few years, it was built, its components like the bronze and the iron mechanism it had started to erode. Moreover, this clock would completely freeze in the winters. Afterwards, another similar clock was made by Chang Ssu Hsiin in 976 A.D. The only major difference between both clocks was that Chang had used mercury instead of using water. Chang’s was the first actual clock without any flaws and that could be used on a bigger scale as water boiled and froze more easily and this problem was solved when Chang used Mercury in the clock instead od water that has been previously been usedd

What Was The First Time Keeping Device?

As we explained the very first timekeeping devices that we know of are sundials and the oldest sundial that we know of was from this very era and is named “valley of king”

It was used to divide up the day from sunrise to sunset to 12 equal parts. But, as the name tells, this clock was only useful in the day time. It used the shadow of an object exposed to the sun. And, as the sun went through its progressions throughout the day, it ultimately caused the shadow of the object to move and ultimately tell time

A picture of a sundial to better answer When Was The First Clock Invented?
A Sundial

The sundial is considered the very first device that was used by the ancient people to figure out the time. The world’s oldest sundial is the “valley of king” which dates back to 1500 B.c. but some say that the history of sundials started way before that. There were different types of sundials that were used. Some made of stones and others made of wood. Buth these time keeping devices still had quite a few loopholes and the biggest one of them was that it couldn’t measure time in the night time. This loophole was soon covered by the making of the water clock in in the third century

Water Clocks

Some amount of water was put in a vessel. That was allowed to escape through a hole in the bottom. The time determined varied according to the size of the vessel and the hole made at the bottom

A picture of an ancient water clock to better answer When Was The First Clock Invented?

It was all before we had the liberty of wearing fancy clocks on our wrist. Or even the scientific knowledge to make the atomic clock. Which helps function the internet as well as the GPS system properly. So, how was it possible for anyone to maintain some kind of a schedule. And then sundials were made which made it possible to navigate through time but they only worked in the day time. So, Egyptians thought of making a time measurement device using the most common liquid around, water. They were educated enough to know that as the level of water in a container drops, the outflow of the stream coming out of the hole made will also drop

A picture of different flows of water to better answer When Was The First Clock Invented?

An advancement in this way of water clock was seen in the Jarasandh period of Korean history. Engineers of this time took advantage of the buoyancy force,( the upthrust force that the water applies on any object when it is immersed into the water) to develop an alarming system. They already knew through the teachings of Archemdis. That the buoyant/upthrust acting on the body could cause the body to float depending on the density of the object.

So, they build another mechanism, where the runoff water fills the secondary vessel object. An object with a lower density is placed in the second vessel. Which will float and come up as the water is filled in the second container.

A picture of a water clock to better answer When Was The First Clock Invented?

This same mechanism was then later used on a smaller scale to make alarm clocks. Even Plato the famous philosopher is known to have made his own personal alarm clock

The invention of water clock was followed by the invention of the candle clock and then the mechanical clock in 739 A.D., then the pendulum clock in 1656. And after tht we came humanity stared using analog clocks which was a simple variation from that and uses it till date with a few new updates like the wifi feature super-accurate time, and don’t forget the digital clocks

Was Sundials The First Clocks?

Yes, sundial were the very first time keeping devices that we know off that we used as humanity

How Did People Tell Time Before Clocks?

Through Sundials, if we go beyond that then we used  we used to mark time by the rising and setting of the sun. And a month by the waxing and waning of the moon. Along with this we also used some other celestial signals to tell time

How Old Is The Oldest Clock?

The oldest functioning clock is the faceless clock that has been working from before than the year 1386 and still ticks every second to this day. It is located at Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, UK. This clock was restored in 1956 and has struck the hours for over 498 years or 143424 times and has counted seconds for over 500 million times.

Why Does A Clock Have 12 Digit? 

It goes back to the ancient Sumerian/Babylonian base 60 number system. They didn’t have the number zero back then. And hence it was ultimately decided to settle on 60 after some extensive discussions and calculations by the mathematicians of the time. As 60 easily breaks into 2 lots of 30, 3 lots of 20, 12 lots of 5, 4 lots of 15, 2 lots of 15 lots of 2, and so on

This decision proved quite helpful for them in conducting their daily trade as people of the time weren’t mostly educated to deal with fractions and this proved quite helpful. This was precisely the same reason for why 360 degrees were chosen.

So simply put 60 minutes in an hour and 12 blocks of time that we regard as an hour in a day and 12 at night was quite convenient and basically is a throwback to the Babylonian system that gave birth to this very concept.

Down below is a video showing how counting in 12s can be quite helpful

Another quite important point to add here is that zero hadn’t been invented by the time when we as a species first started recording and scheduling time, so it had already become a norm to never use and include anything of the sort, so some might say that zero was a bit too late to be included in the clock, even though it was discovered way before the invention of12 hour clocks but humanity already been scheduling their time without anything called zero

The 12-hour clock can be first traced back to Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Both an Egyptian sundial for daytime use and an Egyptian water clock ( which we will talk about in detail later in this article ) for night-time use were found in the tomb of Pharaoh Amenhotep I. Dating to c. 1500 BC, and even this clock was divided into 12 respective hours. And it didn’t take long for the concept to travel around the world as people traveled and learned and shared

Hopefully this article was helpful in answering some of your clock-related questionsIf you have any clock-related questions, feel free to use the comment section below. And if you want to know why clocks don’t appear in dreams, we have a great article on just that so do give it a click if you are interested “Why don’t clocks appear in dreams? Clocks and dreams!Opens in a new tab.“. Here is also a link about the history of clocks if you want to give that a look “History of timekeeping devicesOpens in a new tab.

AK Iqbal

A University of London’ student with a passion for writing. Clocks have always intrigued me and the importance that they have in our lives is way beyond phenomenal. So, on this site, I write everything about clocks, everything from answering any clock-related queries that you might have along with recommending some of my favorite clocks accordingly. Moreover, I will also be conducting some researches on clock related topics and sharing the things that I learn. So stay tuned to ohmyclock for all the fun clocks related content

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