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

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM READER'S DIGEST USView All

OUR LITTLE GIRL CHIKA

What is a real father? An orphan in Haiti teaches bestselling author Mitch Albom a wonderful new definition.

6 mins read
Reader's Digest US
June 2021

Robots Gone Wild

What happens when you train a machine to take over for humans? It screws up—just as humans do.

3 mins read
Reader's Digest US
June 2021

Fighting for Country and Beethoven

During a stressful time, a National Guardsman still finds a way to lead his class

3 mins read
Reader's Digest US
June 2021

With Open Arms, at Last

EVERYDAY MIRACLES

4 mins read
Reader's Digest US
June 2021

THE TEACHER WHO WRESTLED A COUGAR

When a wild cat springs from the woods to prey on her young students, a daycare owner instantly moves to protect them. A classic RD drama.

9 mins read
Reader's Digest US
June 2021

I Am Soy …A Proto- Protein with a Problem

THE FOOD ON YOUR PLATE

4 mins read
Reader's Digest US
June 2021

SO YOU'VE HAD IT ROUGH? GOOD!

HOW WE APPROACH HARDSHIP COULD TELL US HOW LONG WE’LL LIVE

8 mins read
Reader's Digest US
June 2021

13 Things Scent-sational News About Smell

In early 2020, ear, nose, and throat doctors around the world saw an unusual number of patients who had unaccountably lost their sense of smell. Many of these specialists then developed the same condition, and some became very ill. Suddenly, the stepchild sense took center stage.

4 mins read
Reader's Digest US
June 2021

I Cry for the Mountains

After a wildfire swept through the land where his family raised their cattle for more than a century, a rancher takes a tour of what’s left—and what might come next

10+ mins read
Reader's Digest US
June 2021

Your Brilliant Smartphone

Unlock your device's most helpful tricks and secrets with these 25 tips

10+ mins read
Reader's Digest US
June 2021