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A Brief History of Digital Clocks

A Brief History of Digital Clocks

Digital clocks are one of the most prevalent pieces of technology in our society. They’ve been around for so long that we hardly even acknowledge their presence on our wrists or walls anymore. But how did this amazing type of technology come to be? Find out in a brief history of digital clocks.


Analog clocks have been around for centuries. But the digital clock in its first iteration was not invented until late in the 19th century. In 1883, Josef Pallweber, an Austrian engineer, invented his “jump hour” mechanism—the first digital pocket watch. Pallweber’s watch featured two dials within the clock that rotated to display the hour and the minutes on the watch’s face. This technology was later incorporated into wrist watches.


In 1904, a similar type of clock, called the Plato Clock, made its debut at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair. The Plato Clock was a cylinder-shaped object with glass-enclosed digital cards that flipped to display the time as it passed. The design was created by the Asonia Clock Company and patented by Eugene Fich of New York in 1903.


October 23, 1956 marked the patenting of the first digital alarm clock by D.E. Protzmann in the United States. Later, in 1970, Protzmann and his associates also patented another, more advanced digital clock design, said to contain less moving parts.


Finally, in 1970, the first digital wristwatch with an LED display, called the Pulsar, was created by Hamilton Watch Company and widely produced and marketed. 1970 and the years that followed marked the point in time that digital technology and wrist watches with LED displays became widely available. In 1972, LCD watch technology was introduced and rose in popularity.

In the years since the events in this brief history of digital clocks, digital clocks and watches have only risen in popularity and developed even more in terms of technology. You can now easily find an alarm clock or wrist watch in a store, or buy a big digital clock for any facility at Big Time Clocks!