Dave Ulmer's Original Binary Clock (OBC)

by Dave Ulmer and Don Bradner

Current Version: 1.0.14, June 14, 2010, download below

Have you ever seen a binary clock? Most of the ones you will find use simple rows of lamps, with each row corresponding to hours, minutes, and seconds. It's boring to watch a row of lamps count in binary.

Back in 1969, Dave invented his Original Binary Clock (OBC), built with discrete components, neon lamps, and housed in a wooden case. This concept clock used three horizontal rows, with Hours over Minutes over Seconds. Hours needed 4 segments to display up to the binary number 12, and the other two rows required 6 segments each to display up to 59. To enhance the visual appearance of the clock Dave added 15 additional lamps in small triangular areas to connect the whole display together. An elaborate metal mask was created to mask the lamps and outline the display. The result was a most unusual display of time with 43,200 unique temporal glyphs presented throughout a 12 hour period. At first it is a bit difficult to read time on his clock, you need to mentally add together the value of the lit segments to get a number. But, after a week or so you begin to recognize the patterns of time and it becomes as easy to read as an old analog clock. You can tell the time at a glance.

Below are some images of that original clock

Now to celebrate the 10th anniversary of another of Dave's inventions, Geocaching, we are releasing a Windows software version of the OBC for your enjoyment. This new OBC can be resized, colors changed, and effects enhanced. It makes a nice little active icon on your computer's display. It's fun to watch your brain learn to read a new type of time display, it's like learning a foreign language with a large number of cryptic symbols. Eventually, you can disable your standard system tray time display and rely entirely on OBC time.

2:06:47 The screenshot at left shows the time as 2:06:47. Can you read it? Also shown is the context menu that is displayed when you right-click the clock or its tray icon.
The screenshot at right shows the "new user" helper numbers, which will display when you click the Display Number menu item. 10:37:20
3:48:47 You can resize the image by grabbing any side or corner with your mouse and dragging. The entire clock can be moved to any location on your desktop by dragging within the window. At left is Dave's favorite configuration, about 1x1 inches with bright orange elements.

To commemorate the spread of the Geocaching around the world (there are over a million geocaches now (see: www.geocaching.com)) we are asking you to enter your location before downloading the OBC program. We are collecting this data so we can create an animated map of the world showing the spread of OBC programs around the globe. The animation will be posted here on this page.

The program itself is completely free, very small, uses limited resources, does not require an install and is easy to remove. Go to the download page:

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