In the 1700’s Mariner Navigators had very poor quality chronometers (clocks) aboard ship. It was key to have the proper time aboard for navigation purposes. To assure all clocks were set properly in the fleet officials in London devised a signal called a time ball. New years eve five minutes before midnight a large wood ball hoisted on a pole was set on fire for all the fleet to see as a signal to stand by and be ready to set your chronometers. Then exactly at midnight with all ships in the harbor watching the ball was dropped and extinguished signaling to reset all chronometers. The tradition was carried over by mariners in the USA and different version of the ball appeared. As more people had access to clocks it became popular to stay up and celebrate the ball dropping knowing exactly when the new year started. In 1907 the city of NY used the first electrified ball in Time Square….And the rest is history..