A little history: Daylight Savings Time


Daylight Savings Time ended yesterday, when we got back the hour that had mysteriously disappeared in March. This year’s Daylight Savings Time lasted over seven months due to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, but that’s nothing compared to 65 years ago when Daylight Savings Time lasted for three years. At least according to the site here from the California Energy Commission, which also includes the following fun facts:

  • Benjamin Franklin first came up with the idea of Daylight Savings Time in 1784. He was ignored for over a hundred years, poor guy.
  • William Willett brought the idea up again in England in 1907, although his suggestion was to move the clocks 20 minutes per month for four months in the spring and summer. And then, presumably, to move them back. This didn’t go over so well (No kidding?!? It’s Monday and we still haven’t changed all our clocks. I can only imagine the chaos that would ensue if we had to shift them by 20 minutes every four weeks.) but the idea did eventually result in British Summer Time in 1916.
  • The US followed suit in 1918 and 1919, and that was it until 1942, when an hour was taken away and not given back for three years, presumably to make up for all those missed Daylight Savings Times in the ’20s and ’30s. Meanwhile, Britain started moving their clocks ahead two hours in the summer and keeping them an hour ahead in the winter. And then back in the US states and localities started doing pretty much whatever they wanted to, which caused all sorts of confusion.
  • To calm things down, the Uniform Time Act was created in 1966 and, with some variations, that’s how it’s been in the US ever since. But as recently as 6 years ago in California there was a Senate Joint Resolution to make Daylight Savings Time year round (although that was never acted upon).

And now for your pop quiz question: Do you know which Department controls time laws in the United States?

Update:  For the answer, go here.


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3 Responses to “A little history: Daylight Savings Time”

  1. Matt Says:

    I think it’s either the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) or the Naval Observatory. I’ll go with the Navy, then check.

  2. heather360 Says:

    Nope, neither one…….

  3. TwoPi Says:

    Keyword: “laws”.

    NIST and the Naval Observatory do lots of time research, and are involved in international consortia that decide cool things like when to schedule leap seconds and such (since the earth’s rotational period about the sun is not constant, while the various events in the heart of an atomic clock *are* constant), but they aren’t responsible for Federal Regulations regarding time measurement (DST, time zones) throughout the USA.

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