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It was inaugurated on Sunday, when each railroad station clock was reset as standard-time noon was reached within each time zone.

Before clocks were first invented, it was common practice to mark the time of day with apparent solar time (also called "true" solar time) – for example, the time on a sundial – which was typically different for every location and dependent on longitude.

The use of time zones accumulates these differences into longer units, usually hours, so that nearby places can share a common standard for timekeeping.

The first adoption of a standard time was on December 1, 1847, in Great Britain by railway companies using GMT kept by portable chronometers.

He advocated his system at several international conferences, and is thus credited with the instigation of "the initial effort that led to the adoption of the present time meridians." In 1876, his first proposal was for a global 24-hour clock, conceptually located at the centre of the Earth and not linked to any surface meridian.

In 1879 he specified that his universal day would begin at the anti-meridian of Greenwich (180th meridian), while conceding that hourly time zones might have some limited local use.

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