Decimal Time and 100 Minute Clocks

decimal time clock

Decimal time is the most logical form of timekeeping that you have never heard about. Basically it is an alternative way to measure time and dates, which is based entirely on powers of ten. Standard time is derived from ancient Babylonian time keeping practices, and is based on dividing the day into two, 12 hour periods, with 60 minute segments within each hour, and 60 second segments within each minute.

Alternatively decimal time divides the year into periods based on the number 10, with weeks, days, hours, minutes, and even seconds numbered based on multiples of 10. Even though this system is much more efficient and easier use it has not been widely adopted, and standard tiem is still used throughout most of the world.

History of Decimal Time

In China, decimal time has actually been kept throughout its history. There, one calendar based on divisions of 10 is kept next to a second calendar which is based on units of 12. These two calendars were synched up by dividing the decimal calendar into units of 60. When Jesuits began working in the country in the 17th century, they introduced western time, which was then incorporated into the duo calendar system. Today standard western divisions are most common in China, although a mixture of western time and decimal time known as xun is still used on formal documents.

Decimal time is most famous for its use during the French Revolution. After the people overthrew the monarchy, the provisional government enacted the decree of 5 October, 1973, which essentially established Decimal time through the country of France. Under this law the day was divided into 10 equal parts, with each part divided further into 10 segments, and so on and so forth until you couldn’t divide the time anymore.

Decimal time was coupled with the French Republican Calendar, which further divided the month into 3, 10 day Decades, and set the first year as the year that the revolution took place.

While decimal time, and the Republican Calendar was in use, clocks were printed with two sets of numbers, both standard 24 hour divisions, and the new 10 segment decimal divisions.

Decimal time was not very successful, and only lasted a few years in France. The entire Republican Calendar was actually suspended in 1805. Decimal time didn’t even last that long, and was revoked in 1795, a little less than a year after it was enacted. Interestingly, the law which revoked decimal time instituted the metric system of weights and measurements. This system was left without a time measurement, and the equation of a second equaling 1/86400 was used as the standard conversion for metric time.

The conversion of 86400 : 1 is based on the fact that there are 86400 standard seconds ina decimal day. However the French system there were 100,000 seconds in a decimal day, thus the French second was shorter than the standard second.

Decimal Time In The Modern World

Decimal time is most often used to convert dates, and fractions of time, into computer programming languages. This allows scientists and computer programmers who are working with decimal based numbers, as well as decimal based metric weights and measures, to incorporate time into their findings without having to do complicated conversions.

One form of decimal time that is used in some circles is called Swatch internet time. This is a system created by Swiss watchmaker Swatch, and is supposed to be a way to universally measure time, in a world where computers make time zones much less important. In actuality this was probably just a marketing ploy to sell more watches to fans of the internet.

While decimal time is a much easier and more logical system of keeping time, it is generally not used in the modern world, which has largely become accustomed to standard 24 hour days. Many futurists do predict that the exploration of space, and the colonization of planets which do not fit into the standard 24 hour model, will prompt the need to begin using decimal time as a way of measuring what time it is.

Leave a Reply