Daylight Saving Time was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin. He outlined the idea in an essay entitled "An Economical Project", in 1784. It was written mostly in jest, but others saw the value and picked up on the idea. In fact, William Willet, a London builder, proposed that the city advance the clocks 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April and setting the clocks back by the same 20 minutes on the four Sundays in September. He published a pamphlet proposing the idea entitled "Waste of Daylight".
Willet spent a fortune promoting the idea of "summer time". Sadly he did not live long enough to see a bill come to fruition in the form of a law.
Daylight Saving Time began in Germany and Austria at 11:00 pm on April 30th, 1916. It was meant as an effort to conserve the fuel that was used to produce electricity. Other countries immediately followed suit. Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, Denmark, France, Tasmania, Norway, Luxembourg, Portugal, Turkey, and Sweden joined in as soon as Germany and Austria made it official. On May 21, 1916 Britain, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba followed. The United States drug their feet another two years and waited until March 19th, 1918.
The theory of Daylight Saving Time is to match the clock to the changing season and make it more cohesive with the amount of daylight. Less energy would be used if we work when it's light. It has actually worked and there are statistics to prove the value.
Individual families probably don't realize a great amount of savings. However, the pennies saved by individual families add up to a greater number for the nations as the total costs are concerned.
For example, in New Zealand power companies reported an over power usage decrease of 3.5% when Daylight Saving Time started.
In a report based on consumption figures of oil in the United States from 1974 and 1975 The Department of Transportation concluded that by observing Daylight Saving Time in March and April saved energy. They came up with the following figures. They claimed a savings equivalent in energy of 10,000 barrels of oil each day. This would be a total of 600,000 barrels each of those years.
The controversy has never really ended. Some people conclude that you can just get up when the sun rises and go to bed when it sets. They have never enforced a nation wide Daylight Saving Time in the United States. State laws prevail. Some states actually have some part of the state participate and other areas do not.
Most of us were raised springing forward and falling back. It seems to have served us well.