Standard time concept can be considered as a byproduct of railroad expansion. Till 1800s, calculation of time was linked to the position of sun. This method is known as solar time. This led to many local time zones and began to create confusion with the progress in the fields of weather forecast and train travel. It became necessary to fix time to a single time standard. The need to synchronize the time of clocks within a geographical region or area to a single time standard led to the concept of standard time.
Standard time and General Railroad Time Convention
In 1883, the representatives of railroad authorities in United States held a meeting to sort out the issues related to different local time zones. This meeting is known as General Railroad Time Convention. On April 11, 1883, the officials agreed to create five time zones in North America. General Railroad Time Convention was convened again on October 11, 1883 and it was decided to implement the new standard effective from November 18, 1883. By 1890, standard time and time zones were accepted by all.
Britain and France each had their own standards times decades earlier compared to United States. Since they were small countries, they needed only one time zone and there was not much confusion. The successful adoption of standard time in United States, made scientists and astronomers think how the concept could be made applicable for the entire globe.
In 1884, a time convention was held in Paris for designating worldwide time zones and eventually the global time zones concept prevailing now emerged.
Sir Sandford Fleming and Worldwide Standard Time
Sir Sandford Fleming, a Canadian engineer of Scottish birth, is known as the inventor of worldwide standard time. His concept was presented on February 8, 1879 at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute (RCI). He proposed dividing the world into 24 time zones beginning with the Greenwich Meridian and spaced at 15 degree intervals. His proposal suggested the time of Greenwich, England (at 0 degrees longitude) as the standard time. The times of other 24 time zones, fixed a time in relation to the mean time.
In 1884, 25 nations attended The International Prime Meridian Conference. The conference decided to adopt the proposal of Sir Sandford Fleming. Thus the worldwide standard time became a reality.
The Royal Canadian Institute (RCI) founded in 1849 b y Sir Sandford Fleming is now is well known centre for the advancement of science.