This month in 1883, the ancestor of today’s familiar U.S. time zones first appeared at the initiative of the American Railway Association. A schoolteacher named Charles Dowd is credited with first proposing the notion of time zones as early as 1863 in order to rationalize railroad timetables, there being 80 time standards then in use by localities. There was wide but incomplete acceptance of the railway association’s zones, and the adjusted zones were not made law until 1918. In 1884, delegates from 25 nations met in Washington, D.C. and established a standard system of 24 time zones around the world. The prime meridian was set at Greenwich, England, and the international dateline in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Making timepieces is just under a billion dollars a year business in the U.S., employing 2,600 people. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <www.census.gov>.