Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Going back in time

Hebden Bridge Millennium ClockYesterday, clocks in Britain went back an hour, marking the end of British Summer Time. We’re now following Greenwich Mean Time, through the winter until the 27th March 2016.

It used to be that people would have to change every clock manually, when daylight savings time started or ended. But as computers and devices got smarter, they could be pre-programmed to change the time automatically.

My parents’ first PC originally didn’t change the time by itself, as it wasn’t supported in Windows 3.11. But we later upgraded to Windows 95, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a message one morning on the screen, telling me that Windows had automagically changed the clock for us. Later versions of Windows just did the time change on the quiet, and most other operating systems do the same nowadays.

We’re now in that stage of technological innovation where some of our devices can change the time automatically, but not all. Our phones, computers and tablets are all capable of it. Our Freesat satellite TV set-top box just needed turning off and on again to update the time. Even my Fitbit Charge changed automatically too, which was nice.

I still had to manually change the central heating controls, though. We’re planning to get a new central heating system sometime in the next couple of years and I expect we’ll get a smart thermostat which will have daylight savings capability, so changing the time for heating won’t be an issue in future.

The only other device that I had to change was our basic analogue clock in the kitchen. Short of wiring up some kind of Arduino device to it, I doubt I’d ever be able to make it change automatically.

Still, it’s nice not having to spend all morning re-programming things like we did in the past.


  1. Its all very good until the date of the clock change is put back and your devices don’t get the timezone data update.

    Timezone data update 2015g doesn’t appear to have been rolled out very far so now Turkish mobile phones are all an hour out until November 8th. Which meant a whole load of people woke up an hour late on Sunday.

  2. We’ve had to change the oven and the microwave (well, we’re leaving the microwave as it can’t keep time accurately anyway – it’s about 20 minutes out after 6 months anyway): was very surprised the central heating changed itself(!).