Benjamin Franklin is one of the key figureheads of American history. A brilliant inventor, publisher, politician, and ambassador, the founding father wore many different hats in his lifetime.
But did you know he was the first to suggest an idea similar to Daylight Saving Time? And that he invented a musical instrument that Beethoven and Mozart loved so much they wrote music for it?
Keep scrolling to learn more facts about American history’s „Renaissance man.“
Franklin’s Daylight Saving Time-esque idea originated as a humorous suggestion to the French.
Benjamin Franklin is not credited with inventing what we now know as Daylight Saving Time, but he did structure a remarkably similar argument for re-arranging sleep schedules — and was the first person to ever have such an idea.
In 1784, when Franklin was 78 years old and serving as an ambassador to France, he was unpleasantly awoken from the summer sun at 6 a.m. As a result, Franklin penned one of his famous satirical essays, suggesting that Parisians, if they woke up at dawn, could save money through „the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.“
Unfortunately, Franklin lived at time when time was not standardized, so there was no way of implementing his plan. After Europe was standardized, in the early 1900s, Englishman William Willett led the first campaign for what we know know as Daylight Saving Time.
Benjamin Franklin only had two years of formal education.
In this day and age, it’s hard to believe that a world-renowned thinker like Franklin hardly set foot in a classroom.
Franklin was 8 years old when he attended the South Grammar School (Boston Latin) in Boston, Massachusetts. The following year he switched to George Brownell’s English School, which specialized in writing and arithmetic.
At age 10, Franklin started an apprenticeship in his father’s soap- and candle-making shop, which marked the end of his formal education. Nevertheless, he remained a prolific reader and writer, borrowing books from friends, and, eventually, apprenticing at his brother’s printing shop.
Franklin designed the “glass armonica,” a musical instrument that was beloved by Mozart and Beethoven.
During his time as a delegate to London and France, Franklin noticed that many performers used sets of drinking glasses to create sound. He was intrigued, and got to work on a musical instrument that could mimic the sound of wet fingers on glass.
Completed in 1761, Franklin’s glass armonica („armonica“ comes from the Italian word „armonia,“ which means „harmony“) uses glass cups of varying sizes and density to create different notes. His invention went on to become one of the most popular instruments of the 18th century, and composers like Beethoven and Mozart even wrote music for it.
Franklin said about his creation, „Of all my inventions, the glass armonica has given me the greatest personal satisfaction.“
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Source: Business insider