According to this source, Ben Franklin is the man to thank for the idea of Daylight Savings Time and the Germans were the first nation to adopt it:
According to the book, Seize the Daylight, by David Perau, Franklin was living in Paris when he was awakened by sunlight coming in through the windows.
"An accidental sudden noise waked me about 6 in the morning when I was surprised to find my room filled with light," Franklin wrote in a letter to the Journal de Paris, according Perau. "I imagined at first that a number of lamps had been brought into the room; but rubbing my eyes I perceived the light came in at the windows."
What followed was a plan to save Paris money by optimizing sunlight over candles.
The real father of Daylight Saving Time was an Englishman, William Willett (1857-1915), a house builder who spent the last eight years of his life petitioning for the adoption of DST by the British Parliament, and did so at his own expense.
Willett produced a pamphlet, The Waste of Daylight. In it he proposed that the clocks should be advanced by 80 minutes in the summer. The evenings would then remain light longer, increasing daylight recreation time and also saving ₤2.5 million in lighting costs. He suggested that the clocks should be advanced by 20 minutes at a time at 2am on successive Sundays in April and be turned back by the same amount on Sundays in September.
Robert Pearce, a member of Parliament, introduced the measure in a select committee of the legislature. A very young Winston Churchill heartily endorsed the proposal. Several times, the bill came to a vote, and each time, it met with defeat. Willett died in 1915, of influenza, never living to see his longed-for idea come to fruition.South Korea used to observe Daylight Savings Time for most of the years after World War II through 1960. It also observed DST from 1987 to 1988 when South Korea hosted the Asian Games and the Olympic Games.
Ironically, events elsewhere in Europe prompted its eventual adoption. In the summer of 1914, World War I broke out in Europe. Germany and its allies were the first European nations to adopt Willet's proposal. The measure went into effect on April 30, 1916, stemming from the need to conserve coal during wartime. Great Britain, Russia and several neutral European countries came on board in 1917. The United States formally adopted the law in 1918, athough some states and territories have exempted themselves from following Daylight Savings Time.
Recently, business interests and government officials have been pushing to reinstate DST as part of a wider green initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There was much talk of bringing it back in 2009, but it appears nothing every materialized from it.
Source (Feb 16th, 2009):
The government will form a task force to introduce daylight saving time (DST) as early as possible to save energy and improve the quality of life, Cheong Wa Dae said Monday.
It is also considering creating a fund to attract investment from the private sector in the development of energy-saving technologies under the ``Green New Deal'' project aimed at nurturing relative industries into a new economic growth engine.
These measures were discussed at the first meeting of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth, presided over by President Lee Myung-bak at Cheong Wa Dae. The 47-member council of economic ministers and experts from the private sector, which opened Monday, will play a leading role in forming the government's green growth policies.
``South Korea has become one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of efforts to develop green technologies and fight climate change,'' President Lee said. ``I'm confident that green technologies will not only help us overcome the ongoing economic crisis, but enhance the country's long-term growth potential.''
As part of plans to promote green industries, the government will soon introduce DST, which has been adopted by 27 of the 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Only South Korea, Japan and Iceland have yet to put DST in motion.
The measure is expected to draw a fierce backlash from unions, which have argued employers might abuse it to force employees to work longer. Union activists claim that it is still premature to launch DST because South Koreans work the longest hours in the world even though the country enforces a 40-hour workweek. [...]The target was to have DST return to South Korea by spring of 2010, and that obviously never happened. Hazaa!