A Clock without a Dial

A Reform in our present antiquated method of time-indication has been introduced by Samuel P. Thrasher, of New Haven, Conn., who has devised a simple form of clock in which the dial is replaced with moving figure wheels, indicating the time as a cyclometer indicates miles. When one thinks of it, our present clock dial is as mediæval as would be a circular cryptogram for the sign over a store. It might do for the days of astrology, but it has survived too long. The American Inventor (March I), describing the new form of clock in an article entitled "A Twentieth Century Time System," says:—

"Instead of the old way, which does not tell the time, but presents a group of signs by which one contrives to calculate it, the new dial will actually tell the exact time without any calculation whatever. It will no longer be necessary, many times a day, to solve a mental problem—the hour and minute hands being respectively in such and such positions relatively to such and such figures, what must the time be—for a glance at the clock shows the time unmistakably announced in plain Arabic numerals. We are so used to the mental calculations referred to that we hardly realize they are a nuisance. There are seven hundred and twenty minute combinations formed by the passage of the hands on the dial. Some persons never become so used to calculating them that they do not make an appreciable pause before stating the time. Often mistakes are made, as when one says it is twenty-four minutes past eight, when it is really nineteen past. But in reading the new clock no one need pause, calculate, or mistake, and a child will have no difficulty. When the hour hand of the old-fashioned time-piece is dangling in one direction between VI and VII and the minute hand is losing itself in another somewhere between XI and XII, the new timepiece will read simply and conclusively 6.58. In another minute the last figure magically disappears and 9 takes its place, and in another all the figures vanish, and in their place appears 7.00. That is, time will be told as the railroad time-tables tell it. And with the general introduction of this system would go such bungling expressions—entailed by the old circular dial-plate with its wreath of figures—as twenty minutes past nine, fourteen minutes of twelve. Instead we shall adopt the crisp, accurate terminology of the time-table and say, nine-twenty, eleven forty-six.

"Another advantage of Mr. Thrasher's clock is that time may be discerned by it at a much greater distance and a more difficult angle. The reason is obvious. There are twenty-eight figures on the ordinary dial and only one is perfectly upright. The greatest number appearing on the new dial is four and all are upright. The figures of a tower-clock, for example, may be made several feet long and thus discernible at a great distance.

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April 25, 1901

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