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As you turn back your clocks: A primer on daylight saving


It’s a seasonal rite: Turn those clocks back an hour every fall, as daylight saving time ends (Reminder, that’s 2 a.m. Sunday).

Now, a state commission has signed off on a report saying that remaining on Atlantic Standard Time all year would be beneficial for Massachusetts — although any change appears to be far off.

The report notes that seceding from the Eastern Time Zone is feasible only if other Northeast states agree to go along. Bermuda and Puerto Rico and parts of easternmost Canada are among the areas that follow Atlantic Time.


Fuzzy on the origins of all this time-shifting? Here’s a look at some of the history:

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1784: Benjamin Franklin is credited with first suggesting daylight saving time. He wrote a letter to the editor of a Parisian newspaper titled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light.” As a joke, he suggested that Parisians could get more use of their candles by getting out of bed earlier in the morning.

1895: In an academic paper, New Zealand entomologist George Hudson proposes a two-hour daylight saving shift.

1907: Englishman builder and outdoorsman William Willett campaigned for setting the clock ahead 80 minutes over the course of April. He recommended that the clocks change in 20 minute increments every Sunday. This practice would be reversed in September.

1909: The British House of Commons rejected a bill to advance the clocks by one hour during the spring and revert back to normal in the fall.


During World War I, several countries, including Australia, Great Britain, Germany, and the United States started practicing daylight saving time to conserve fuel. In some countries, clocks were continuously kept an hour ahead during World War II — in the United States they were kept that way from Feb. 9, 1942 to Sept. 30, 1945.

1986: The US Congress passed a law that moved up the start of daylight saving from the last Sunday in April to the first. The end date remained the same — the last Sunday in October.

2007: The United States and Canada shifted the beginning of daylight saving to the second Sunday in March and the end date to the first Sunday in November.

Hawaii is currently the only US state that doesn’t observe daylight saving time at all. The majority of Arizona does not follow the practice, but there are parts of the state that do. None of the US territories follows daylight saving time.

Sophia Eppolito can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SophiaEppolito.