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  • Arts & Culture
  • Issue 35

Object Matters

A timely history of the alarm clock. Words by Katie Calautti. Photograph by Gustav Almestål. Stylist by Pernilla Löfberg.

It’s no surprise that civilizations across the globe have relied on tricks and gadgets to rise and shine. If there’s one constant that has vexed people through the centuries, it’s how hard it is to wake up.

Back in the fourth century B.C., Plato used a modified clepsydra—water clock—to wake himself and his students for dawn lectures. In 245 B.C., Ctesibius of Alexandria upgraded the clepsydra into a mechanical version that whistled at a specific time. Then in the eighth century A.D., Chinese engineer Yi Xing rang a decidedly poetic note with his planet, star and time-measuring water wheel clock, which boasted gears that set off puppet shows and gongs.

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This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-Five

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