A Short Animated History of Daylight Saving Time, Narrated by Stephen Fry

Sev­er­al weeks back, we con­tem­plat­ed how, in the 1650s, the eco­nom­ic his­to­ry of the West changed irrev­o­ca­bly when Chris­ti­aan Huy­gens invent­ed the pen­du­lum clock  — a time­piece that enabled us to mea­sure time in accu­rate, uni­form ways, mak­ing us atten­tive to the pas­sage of time and focus on things like pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and per­for­mance. Watch “A Briefer His­to­ry of Time” to get more on that.

By the 18th cen­tu­ry, Ben Franklin, Amer­i­ca’s great Enlight­en­ment fig­ure, thought of anoth­er way to dis­ci­pline time and squeeze more pro­duc­tiv­i­ty out of us. While an envoy in France, Franklin sug­gest­ed that Parisians save mon­ey on can­dles by get­ting out of bed ear­li­er and prof­it from the morn­ing sun­light. Not a sur­pris­ing sug­ges­tion from the man who famous­ly said: “Ear­ly to bed, and ear­ly to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” In the video above, Stephen Fry tells you the rest of the Day­light Sav­ing sto­ry. And just a reminder, Europe springs its time for­ward tonight.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Clocks Changed Human­i­ty For­ev­er, Mak­ing Us Mas­ters and Slaves of Time

Stephen Fry Explains Human­ism in 4 Ani­mat­ed Videos: Hap­pi­ness, Truth and the Mean­ing of Life & Death

Stephen Fry Explains the Rules of Crick­et in 10 Ani­mat­ed Videos

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.