That Old Alarm Clock

I admit, this seems strange, writing about an alarm clock. But you have to understand. This is a piece of history. Not only history in terms of technology, as it was one of the first LED clocks ever produced–by Fairchild Semiconductor, no less–but it is a part of my history.

I first remember seeing the Fairchild Timeband C-6110 at my mom’s house when I was 3, which places its purchase somewhere between 1976 and 1977. You can see it in a photo that was taken with my sister and I a couple years later (behind my elbow on the table):

You can see what the alarm clock looked like when it functioned:

This alarm clock was in continual service until the 25 of September 2007 when I noticed the clock, which was in my son’s bedroom at the time, was stuck on 12:00. I tried to set the time on it. It didn’t respond, except for the low buzzing sound it was emitting. If I had the inclination, back in the day, I could have probably fixed it. If you can find the necessary parts and know how to use a soldering iron, you could probably fix it, even today.

Even today, among all the other gadgets, gizmos, and electronics that have come and gone in my life, my old alarm clock, ugly and yellowing with age, still holds the record at more than 30 years in service in my life. Whatever my mom paid for it in the mid-1970s, I’m sure we got our money’s worth. It lasted far longer than anyone thought it would.

Among other alarm clocks I’ve owned, this one had two redeeming features: it would survive a momentary power outage or brownout without resetting (without a battery!), and it had an alarm that would wake the dead. I can’t find any recordings of this alarm clock, but I can best describe it as a digitally-generated airhorn.

Even though it’s been a couple of decades since I last used this alarm clock, growing up with and using this alarm clock for nearly three decades trained me to wake up before it or any other alarm clock goes off. It may be partially responsible for the fact that if I have to get up and go somewhere early the next morning, I’m not likely to sleep well the night before.






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