How Did International Time Zones Come About?


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Taylor Edgar answered
International time zones only become an issue as communications and travel became easier. In the mid-19th Century, European railway networks ran their timetables according to the time in their capital cities.

But in the USA, the West was being won by the Iron Horse. It soon became clear that using the time standard of Washington DC was never going to work on a continent where there was a three and a half hour time difference between the east and west coasts. Ironically, it was the railroad companies that devised a plan to split the country into three different time zones, Eastern, Central and Pacific Standard Times.

Shortly afterwards when submarine telegraph cables ran across the Atlantic and from Europe into India, there was little choice but to organise a world system of time zones. The zero degrees meridian running through Greenwich in London, and already in use on most nautical charts, was agreed in October 1884 as the base point from which all longitude east and west would be calculated.

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