c. 1900

A knocker-up rouses a client in Lancashire.

Image: Past Pix/SSPL/Getty Images

Though designs for alarm clocks date back to the ancient Greeks, they were still not particularly widespread well after the Industrial Revolution. In Britain and Ireland, a large number of enterprising early birds made a living waking people for work.

A knocker-up would be paid a few pence a week to make the rounds and rouse workers, banging on their doors with a short stick or rapping on upper windows with a long pole. The knocker-up would not move on until he received confirmation that his drowsy client was up and moving. Read more…

More about Sleep, Industrial, Britain, History, and Retronaut

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Before alarm clocks, Brits paid people to wake them up by tapping on their window