13 Things - Surprising Innovations from World War I
Reader's Digest US|November 2018

The idea of fiddling with the clock has been around since antiquity, but it was not until World War I that governments around the globe officially adopted daylight saving time.

Jacopo della Quercia

1 Daylight Saving Time

The idea of fiddling with the clock has been around since antiquity, but it was not until World War I that governments around the globe officially adopted daylight saving time. Why? To conserve resources such as fuel and extend the workday for the war effort. The Germans and AustroHungarians did it first, in 1916, and the Allies followed shortly after. To clear up confusion about the concept, the Washington Times used a comic strip to explain the first “spring forward” in the United States in 1918.

2 Wristwatches

Timepieces known as wristlets were sold during the 19th century. However, they failed to take off with men until World War I demonstrated their superiority to pocket watches in battle— particularly for military leaders who were coordinating precision attacks. By the war’s end, an entire generation of young men either had a wristwatch or wanted one for Christmas.

3 Blood Banks

Blood transfusions date back to the 1600s, but doctors rarely performed them before World War I, when they were accomplished by transfusing blood directly from one person to another. Capt. Oswald Robertson, a U.S. Army Reserve doctor consulting with the British army, recognized the need to stockpile blood before casualties occurred. In 1917, he helped establish the first blood bank on the western front.

4 Hollywood

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