|Conversation Topics: Snooze Button|
Life is full of simple pleasures. For many
of us, there is no sweeter time than the
few more minutes of sleep obtained by the
half-awake slap of the snooze button -- that
switch on the alarm clock that defers the
alarm for a few minutes. These days it's
hard to find a clock radio without a snooze
button, but the snooze button, like the clock
radio that it commonly appears on, has evolved
from the day it first appeared 45 years ago.
...shutting off the alarm buzzer manually in such manner that it will automatically sound again after a short lapse of time, such as 5 or 6 minutes. This buzzer delay-repeat mechanism may be manually tripped several times after each sound of the buzzer so as to obtain several successive 5 minute periods for snoozing or going back to sleep; or, alternatively, two or more of the delay intervals may be totalized, if desired, by manually actuating the control lever several times at once, thereby obtaining a longer delay interval before the alarm buzzer sounds again. To avoid the complexity of a technically descriptive title for this latter mechanism, I have called it the "40-Winker" mechanism.Unfortunately, the "40-Winker" approach was not licensed but other companies, so there is no way on most clocks and clock radios to control how long the snooze period is.
Over the next 10 years, the idea of a snooze button migrated from alarm clocks to clock radios. In 1969, "Radio Clock Mechanism having Drowse Feature," US Patent #3,686,878 was filed. (Incidentally, US patents can be read on-line by going to http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm and entering the patent number.)
In the 1970's, digital displays for electric clocks followed, but the timing mechanism was still mechanical. US Patent #3,559,072 issued to Elden R. Davisson on January 26, 1971, for "Electronic Shut-off Timers" describes an electronic 'sleep switch' for controlling the playing of a clock radio without relying on the clock radio's clock mechanism. A sleep switch, you may know, works the opposite of a snooze button: it allows you to turn on the radio and then control when it will shut off so that you go to sleep listening to the radio and not worry about it waking you up later in the night..
Fully electronic clocks began replacing mechanical and electric clocks in the late 1970's. US Patent # 3,888,075 issued on June 10, 1975, describes an "Electronic Clock" and is interesting because, by this date, snooze buttons were considered a standard feature and is included in a routine fashion within this patent.
In closing, like the "40-Winker," there is another patent that didn't get much use but that many of us probably wish would have: US Patent #2,999,928 issued to A.W. Haydon, et al, on September 12, 1961, for a "Portable Clock-Radio Alarm System." To quote the patent:
The follow-up alarm is a further safeguard should an unmodulated carrier wave be received, which could conceivably occur in early morning hours, when a transmitting station is merely "warming up." In this event, the sleeper would be awakened by the positive feedback signal actuated by the follow-up alarm system.In other words, if you set the clock to 'wake to music' but for whatever reason there is no signal in the morning, the buzzer comes on instead.
Updated October 1, 2003 - go to our home or life advice page