The combination alarm clock and study desk is one of the most famous devices created by John Muir x1863 while he was a student at the UW. Muir's marvelous invention consists of a collapsing bed designed to awaken the occupant by sliding him to the floor and lighting a lamp — a more abrupt version of today's alarm clocks. After a few minutes, intended to give Muir adequate time to dress, the desk would reveal and conceal Muir's textbooks according to a predetermined schedule for the study of each of his subjects. The machine resides on the first floor of the Wisconsin Historical Society, in the North Corridor.
In addition to being an inventor, Muir is also widely regarded as America's most famous naturalist and conservationist. As an influential wilderness explorer and writer, the tireless Scot helped teach the importance of conserving our national heritage and was instrumental in the creation of Yosemite, Sequoia and the Grand Canyon National Parks. In 1892, John Muir became the first president of the Sierra Club, an office he held until his death in 1914.