Who Invented The First Clock?


I Hsing was the inventor of the first-ever mechanical clock to be built in 723 A.D. He was a Chinese philosopher and a mathematician. This was done in 723 A.D. Moreover, this wasn’t a conventional time-telling mechanical clock but was rather an astronomical clock in function, which means that instead of moving hour hands it moved astronomical figures like the sun and the moon to dictate their location at the time of the day

An old drawing of the I hsing who made the very first clock, to better answer "Who Invented The First Clock?"

 There have been quite a few variations of clocks before the invention of the mechanical clock like the different types of sundial but none of them was nearly as accurate in telling time as a mechanical clock, though this clock made by I. Hsing used water to run. The water flowed into scoops and turned the wheel automatically, which led to the wheel’s one whole complete revolution day and night. The movement of the wheel moved the connected rings which lead to the motion of the celestial bodies marked on the clock.

Fun Fact:

The very first clock that was made by the chineese astronomer/philospher could measure time to the accuracy of nearly 15 minutes

Unfortunately, this very first mechanical clock was soon reported to be corroded. And we don’t have any reference to actually further elaborate on how it looked. One of the problems that this clock had was that it ran on water which meant that it came with the inconsistencies of its properties as well as it wasn’t a very suitable element to have been used in a self-sustaining mechanical clock. This problem was solved when after over a century when another scientist named Chang Ssu Hsiin made a similar mechanical clock but with the adjustment of using mercury instead of water in 976 A.DMercury would scoop down the waterwheel the same way as water did and would rotate the wheel and the ring attached with it which would lead to the movement of the astronomical bodies on top of the clock. This model was designed for his armillary sphere in 976 and was later completed by the creation of it in 977.

The Confusion Surrounding The First Mechanical Clock

the crown recruited Buddhist monk I-Hsing to work with administrative official Liang Ling-Tsan (Liang Ling-Zan) and lead the building of a bronze astronomical instrument, a water clock that would tell time and indicate the movements of the constellations

The first mechanical clock is often confused to be created in 1656 by Christiaan Huygens but it was the first pendulum clock rather then being the first mechanical clock, to elaborate, it was a further evolution of the original clock that we just discussed and it utilized weights and the force of gravity for the function that was carried out by water in the very first mechanical clock like we just discussed. The clock was patented in the next year of being invented which means 1656. His extensive research in horology ultimately resulted in the analysis of the pendulum in his book  Horologium Oscillatorium, ( which is regarded as one of the most important 17th-century works in mechanics ). Most of this book is about the motion of the pendulum and how it operates.

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The idea of such a mechanical clock that was not controlled by periodic motion but rather by a  continuous oscillation and weights in a fixed cycle was first laid by the famous scientist Gallelio Galeli. But he didn’t live long enough to actually materialize his thinking. But fortunately, this was materialized by Christian near over a century later.

The mechanical clocks from back in the day have evolved to what we call the analog clocks which are electrical which we so fondly use even now

How Did People Tell Time Before Clocks?

When humanity was still a bit young we used to mark time by the rising and setting of the sun. And a month by the waxing and waning of the moon. Soon after that, we came across Sundials, through which we told time using the shadow made by the sun on a wooden marked blocked. The sundial was followed by the invention of the water clock, then came the candle clock and after the candle clock was the time when we came around hourglasses which are the most famous kind of clocks. They were used more like timers back in the day. And this was nearly the same time as this when the first mechanical clock was made by I Hsing in 723 A.D like we discussed above, this was later modified and made better by y Chang Ssu Hsing in 976 A.D. Further down the line, this was later accompanied by the invention of pendulum clock by Christiaan Huygens in 1656.

Fun Fact:

The founder of the first ever mechanical clock I Hsing was recruited by the crown to work on this mechanical clock. he was to make a water clock that would tell time along with the movement of the constellations

Why Was The First Clock Invented?

Clocks were a necessity that we needed to evolve into more efficeint beings. If it weren’t for clocks we wouldn’t be living in the same world as the one we are blessed with today. All of the experiments that took place, the inventions that were done in the last few centruries had time as one of the main measuring factors, which basically dums down to meaning that we wouldn’t have the technologies if it weren’t for the precision that we got through the invention of clocks. Moreover, if we take real-life examples from our lives nowadays,

Data transmission on the internet, as well as the GPS navigational system and cell phone towers and even the high grid, depend and work on the accuracy of super accurate clocks known as “Atomic Clocks”, these are clocks so accurate that the latest ones of them won’t even lose a second in a matter of a couple billion years. So there is no doubt to the fact that telling time accurately was one of the biggest feats that we could have pulled off.

Hopefully, this article was helpful in answering some of your clock-related questions. Lastly, 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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