Humanities › History & Culture Biography of Sir Sandford Fleming (1827-1915) Scottish Invented Standard Time in 1878 Share Flipboard Email Print Hulton Archive / Getty Images History & Culture Inventions Famous Inventors Famous Inventions Patents & Trademarks Invention Timelines Computers & The Internet American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Mary Bellis Inventions Expert Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. our editorial process Mary Bellis Updated February 19, 2018 Sir Sandford Fleming was an engineer and inventor responsible for a variety of innovations, most notably the modern system of standard time and time zones. Early Life Fleming was born in 1827 in Kirkcaldy, Scotland and emigrated to Canada in 1845 at the age of 17. He first worked as a surveyor and later became a railway engineer for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He founded the Royal Canadian Institute in Toronto in 1849. While originally an organization for engineers, surveyors, and architects, it would evolve into an institution for the advancement of science in general. Sir Sandford Fleming - Father of Standard Time Sir Sandford Fleming advocated the adoption of a standard time or mean time, as well as hourly variations from that according to established time zones. Fleming's system, still in use today, established Greenwich, England (at 0 degrees longitude) as the standard time, and divides the world into 24 time zones, each a fixed time from the mean time. Fleming was inspired to create the standard time system after he missed the train in Ireland due to confusion over the time of departure. Fleming first recommended the standard to the Royal Canadian Institute in 1879, and he was instrumental in convening the 1884 International Prime Meridian Conference in Washington, at which the system of international standard time — still in use today — was adopted. Fleming was behind the adoption of the present time meridians in both Canada and the U.S. Before Fleming's time revolution, time of day was a local matter, and most cities and towns used some form of local solar time, maintained by some well-known clock (for example, on a church steeple or in a jeweler's window). Standard time in time zones was not established in U.S. law until the Act of March 19, 1918, sometimes called the Standard Time Act. Other Inventions A few of Sir Sandford Fleming's other achievements: Designed the first Canadian postage stamp. The three-penny stamp issued in 1851 had a beaver on it (the national animal of Canada).Designed an early in-line skate in 1850.Surveyed for the first railroad route across CanadaWas the head engineer for most of the Intercolonial Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway.