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A digital clock is a type of clock that displays the time digitally, i.e. in cyphers, as opposed to an analog clock, where the time is displayed by hands. Usually, digital clocks are associated with electronic drives. (Analog clocks are driven mechanically or electronically.) The biggest digital clock is a light time level on the television tower Rheinturm Düsseldorfmarker, Germany.


Digital clocks typically use the 50 or 60 hertz oscillation of AC power or a crystal oscillator as in a quartz clock to keep time. Most digital clocks display the hour of the day in 24 hour format; in the United States and a few other countries a more commonly used hour sequence is 12 hour format (with some indication of AM or PM). Some can use either time mode depending on the owner's preference. Digital emulations of analog-style faces exist as well.


A digital clock's display changing numbers.
An LCD battery operated clock without alarm.
To represent the time, most digital clocks use a seven-segment LED, VFD, or LCD display for each of four digits. They generally also include other elements to indicate whether the time is AM or PM, whether or not an alarm is set, and so on.


A premium digital clock radio with digital tuning.
A basic digital clock radio with analog tuning.
One notorious drawback to digital clocks is the difficulty of setting the time in some designs. Therefore in electronic devices where the clock is not a critical function, often they are not set at all, displaying the default after powered on, 00:00 or 12:00.

Moreover, since they run on electricity, most digital clocks must be reset every time they are moved or the power is cut off. This is a particular problem with alarm clocks, since a power outage during the night usually results in the clock failing to trigger the alarm in the morning.

To reduce the problem, they often incorporate a battery backup to maintain the time during power outages. More recently, some devices incorporate a method for automatically setting the time, such as using a broadcast radio time signal from an atomic clock, getting the time from an existing satellite television or computer connection, or by being set at the factory and then maintaining the time from then on with a quartz movement powered by an internal rechargeable battery.


A digital clock built into an oven.

  • Because digital clocks are very small and inexpensive devices that make product designs more popular, they are often incorporated into all kinds of devices such as radios, televisions, microwave ovens, standard ovens, computers and cell phones. Sometimes their usefulness is disputed: a common complaint is that when time has to be set to Daylight Saving Time, usually many household clocks have to be readjusted.

  • In the 1980s and 1990s, digital clocks were standard on most cars.

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