Watch CBSN Live

Daylight Saving Timeline

Daylight Saving Time got its start as a joke more than two centuries ago. Today, it has been adopted by more than 80 countries. takes a look at how DST changed the way we tell time.

Founding father Benjamin Franklin first forwards the idea for Daylight Saving Time in an essay dubbed "Turkey vs. Eagle, McCauley is my Beagle." Here, Franklin suggested a version of Daylight Saving Time as a good way to save on the cost of candles.

Franklin's suggestion – roundly regarded as a joke – wasn't taken seriously until 1907, when a British writer, William Willet, authored a pamphlet called "A Waste of Daylight."

World War I ushered in daylight saving time as a matter of public policy. The extra hour of light conserved fuel. After WWI, the US repealed its daylight saving time laws, only to dust them off again when WWII rolled around.

1942 - 1945
During WWII, the entire nation was put on War Time, which pushed clocks ahead one hour. Britain, perhaps in a show of one-upmanship, pushed their clocks ahead two hours. After the war, observance of daylight saving time was a local option, a fact which made a mess out of train and bus schedules for some years.

The U.S. Congress adopted the Uniform Time Act to establish a daylight savings time system within each time zone. The practice does not compel states to comply with DST, but instead insists that if states adopt DST, they do it in uniform way. While the U.S. is almost entirely on DST, Arizona, Hawaii, parts of Indiana, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands,and American Samoa have chosen not to observe it.

Energy conservation pushed daylight saving time back into year-round service again during the winter of 1973-74. Again, Americans burned daylight to save fuel, reducing dependency on foreign oil.

Finally, in 1987, Congress established daylight saving time to "spring forward" an hour on the first Sunday in April, with a one hour "fall back" on the last Sunday in October.

This practice is just a week behind most western European countries, who start DST the last Sunday in March, and end it on the last Sunday in September.

Thus far, this adjustment is the last such tweak to DST, although several proposals for change continue to be considered by the subcommittee on Finance and Hazardous Material, a part of the House Committee on Commerce.

Back To Main

Written by Sean Wolfe

View CBS News In