Monday, September 06, 2010

A Timeline for Horology

I thought it might be interesting to draw up a timeline for the developments in horology and time. I've mined some of the better information from Wikipedia to put together this snapshot of horological inventions and discoveries.

12,000 - 30,000 BCE (BC) - Artifacts from the Paleolithic that suggest measurements of the moon's motion.
From Wikipedia:
Lunar calendars were among the first to appear, with all years having twelve lunar months (approximately 354 days). Without intercalation to add days or months to some years, seasons quickly drift in a calendar based solely on twelve lunar months. Lunisolar calendars have a thirteenth month added to some years to make up for the difference between a full year (now known to be about 365.24 days) and a year of just twelve lunar months. The numbers twelve and thirteen came to feature prominently in many cultures, at least partly due to this relationship of months to years.


2600 - 2400 BCE - Stonehenge 3 II
From Wikipedia:
The timber circle was orientated towards the rising sun on the midwinter solstice, opposing the solar alignments at Stonehenge, whilst the avenue was aligned with the setting sun on the summer solstice and led from the river to the timber circle. Evidence of huge fires on the banks of the Avon between the two avenues also suggests that both circles were linked, and they were perhaps used as a procession route on the longest and shortest days of the year. Parker Pearson speculates that the wooden circle at Durrington Walls was the centre of a 'land of the living', whilst the stone circle represented a 'land of the dead', with the Avon serving as a journey between the two.
1500 BCE - Egypt has an early type of Sundial where a T-square casts a shadow which moves across a non-liner scale.

1525–1504 BCE - Water clock or clepsydra - Found in the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep I.

3rd Century BCE - Water Clock - Greek engineer Philo of Byzantium described a mechanical clock with water escapement.

150-100 BCE - Antikythera Mechanism - Mysterious mechanical device found in an ancient Greek ship.
From Wikipedia:
The mechanism has three main dials, one on the front, and two on the back. The front dial has two concentric scales. The outer ring is marked off with the days of the 365-day Egyptian calendar, or the Sothic year, based on the Sothic cycle. Inside this, there is a second dial marked with the Greek signs of the Zodiac and divided into degrees. The calendar dial can be moved to compensate for the effect of the extra quarter day in the solar year (there are 365.2422 days per year) by turning the scale backwards one day every four years.
45 BCE - The Julian Calendar - Julius Caesar set the world to the Solar Calendar

500 - 900 - Candle Clocks - It is not known when candle clocks were first used, though they are mentioned in a Chinese poem by You Jianfu and they are also attributed to King Alfred the Great.

723-725 - Water-powered armillary sphere and clock drive - China

11th Century - Mechanical Clock with escapement - China

1010-1012 - An Atom is described as the smallest division of time. - Byrhtferth's Enchiridion (a science text) defined an atom as 1/564 of a momentum (1½ minutes), and thus equal to 15/94 of a second. It was used in the computus, the process of calculating the date of Easter.

C. 1230 - Mechanical Escapement - Villard de Honnecourt invented a kind of escapement that was used for bell-ringing mechanisms.

1277 - Mercury Escapement - Arabia

C. 1300 - Verge Escapement

1330 - Mechanical Orrery - Richard of Wallingford (1292–1336), abbot of St. Alban's abbey, famously built a mechanical clock as an astronomical orrery.

1352-1354 - Astronomical Clock - The first clock of the Strasbourg Cathedral, the "Three Kings Clock," had several automata including a gilded crowing rooster. At the base a painted figure of a zodiacal man showed the relationship between the signs of the zodiac and parts of the human body

C. 1400 - Fusee
From Wikipedia:
Although many sources erroneously credit Jacob Zech of Prague with inventing it around 1525, it actually appeared with the first spring driven clocks in the 1400s. The idea probably did not originate with clockmakers, since the earliest known example is in a crossbow windlass in a 1405 military manuscript. Drawings from the 1400s by Filippo Brunelleschi and Leonardo da Vinci show fusees. The earliest existing clock with a fusee, also the earliest spring-powered clock, is the Burgunderuhr (Burgundy clock), a chamber clock whose iconography suggests it was made for Phillipe the Good, Duke of Burgundy about 1430, now in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. The earliest definitely dated fusee clock was made by Zech in 1525. The word fusee comes from the French fusée and late Latin fusata, 'spindle full of thread'.


1410 - Prague Astronomical Clock - Clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel, the latter a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Charles University, made the clock and astronomical dial. Other parts, including the calendar and moving figures were added around 1490. From Wikipedia:
At the outer edge of the clock, golden Schwabacher numerals are set on a black background. These numbers indicate Old Czech Time (or Italian hours), with 24 indicating the time of sunset, which varies during the year from as early as 16:00 in winter to 20:16 in summer. This ring moves back and forth during the year to coincide with the time of sunset.


1502 - Pocket Watch - Peter Henlein builds the first known pocket watch.

1547 - 1574 - Astronomical Clock - The second astronomical clock was built in the Strasbourg Cathedral by Swiss clockmakers Isaac Habrecht and Josia Habrecht, as well as the astronomer and musician David Wolckenstein.

1577 - Minute Hand - Jost Bürgi, Switzerland

1582 - The Gregorian Calendar - Pope Gregory XIII introduced a correction to the Julian Calendar, shortening the year of 1582.

1584 - Cross Beat Escapement - Jost Bürgi, Switzerland

1612 - 1681 - Longitude
From Wikipedia:
Having determined the orbital periods of Jupiter's satellites, Galileo Galilei proposed that with sufficiently accurate knowledge of their orbits one could use their positions as a universal clock, and this would make possible the determination of longitude. He worked on this problem from time to time during the remainder of his life; but the practical problems were severe. The method was first successfully applied by Giovanni Domenico Cassini in 1681.
1629 - Cuckoo Clock - Philipp Hainhofer (1578–1647) penned the first known description of a cuckoo clock.

1640 - Household Clock - Black Forest artisans produce the first mechanical clocks for the homes of the rising middle class.

1642 - Pendulum Clock - Galileo Galilei designed the periodic swing of a pendulum to be used as an escapement for a mechanical clock.

1650 - Organ Clock - The scholar Athanasius Kircher describes a mechanical organ with several automated figures, including a mechanical cuckoo.

1655 - Solar Noon - Cassini builds the heliometer of San Petronio in Bologna, to standardise Solar noon.

1657 - Pendulum Clock - Christiaan Huygens patented and built the first example of a mechanical clock using a pendulum as an escapement.

1658 - 1765 - Developments in mechanical escapements

1658 - Balance Spring - Invented by either British physicist Robert Hooke or Dutch scientist Christian Huygens for verge pocket watches.

1660 - Anchor Escapement - Robert Hooke

1673 - Horologium Oscillatorium sive de motu pendulorum - Christiaan Huygens's greatest work on horology. Huygens discovered that pendulums are not isochronous for swings; that is, their period depends on the width of swing.

1675 - Pocket Watch - Christiaan Huygens patented the pocket watch.

1675 - Deadbeat Escapement - Thomas Tompion and Richard Towneley

1676 - Repeating Mechanism - First repeating clock, using the rack and snail striking mechanism, invented by Reverend Edward Barlow.

1680 - Barrow Regulator for the Balance Spring - Invented by Thomas Tompion, it used a worm drive for regulating the oscillation of a balance spring escapement.

1680 - Second Hand

1700 - Duplex Escapement - Invented by Robert Hooke. From Wikipedia:
The duplex watch escapement was invented by Robert Hooke around 1700, improved by Jean Baptiste Dutertre and Pierre Le Roy, and put in final form by Thomas Tryer, who patented it in 1782. It was used in quality English pocketwatches from about 1790 to 1860, and in the Waterbury, a cheap American 'everyman's' watch, during 1880-1898.
1716 - Marine Clock with Pendulum - Invented by Henry Sully.

1722 - Grasshopper Escapement - John Harrison invented a special kind of escapement that had almost no friction and therefore required no lubrication. From Wikipedia:
Two advantages of the grasshopper escapement are its regularity of operation and its freedom from the need for lubrication. The regularity of its operation is inherent in its design. One pallet is released only by the engagement of the other; the impulse given to the pendulum is uniform in both its amount and its timing. The lubricants available to Harrison were poor, messy and short-lived. This meant that conventional clocks had to be stopped frequently for cleaning and oiling. Using his clean and absolutely stable grasshopper escapement Harrison was able to begin a series of long-term investigations into the performance of clocks.


1726 - Gridiron Pendulum - John Harrison invented a pendulum with alternating brass and iron rods assembled so that their different thermal expansions (or contractions) cancel each other out.

C. 1730 - 1750 - The Black Forest Cuckoo Clock

1736 - Marine Chronometer - John Harrison invented and built the first successful clock (H1) accurate and reliable enough to tell Longitude at sea.

1748 - Detent Escapement - Used for Marine Chronometers, invented by Pierre Le Roy

C. 1750 - Gravity Escapement

1750 - Lever Escapement - Invented by Thomas Mudge. From Wikipedia:
The Lever Escapement has been used in the vast majority of watches since the 1800s. Its advantages are (1)the balance wheel is more "detached" or independent than in the cylinder or duplex escapements; it is only in contact with the lever during the short impulse period when the balance swings through its center position, increasing accuracy, and (2)it is a self-starting escapement, so if the watch is shaken so that the balance wheel stops, it will automatically start again.


1755 - Lever Regulator for the Balance Spring - Invented by Joseph Bosley.

1759 - Lever Escapement - Invented by Thomas Mudge.

1759 - Longitude - John Harrison designed and built the first fully successful clock that was accurate and reliable enough to accurately give a ship's longitudinal position on a transatlantic voyage.

1765 - Compensation Balance - Pierre Le Roy (son of Julien Le Roy) invented the compensation balance, which became the standard approach for temperature compensation in watches and chronometers.

1770 - Self Winding Watches - The Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Perrelet invented a self-winding mechanism in 1770 for pocket watches.



Early 19th Century - Carriage Clocks:
The first authetic carriage clock was made in Paris at the start of the 19th Century, by Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823).

Carriage clocks are also known in France as “Officer’s Clocks.” The name is based on an historical anecdote. It is said that Napoleon, having almost lost a battle because one of his officers was late, ordered his military chiefs to carry a small clock with them at all times. Orders placed with master clockmakers always included the reference “a clock for an officer” and this brought the name into common parlance.


1802 - 1816 - Mass Production - Eli Whitney used water power to cut wooden gears for his clocks. By 1816 he was offering the first mass-produced machine with interchangeable parts.

1838 - 1843 - Astronomical Clock - The third, and current clock in the Strasbourg Cathedral was completed. From Wikipedia:
Its main features, besides the automata, are a perpetual calendar (including a computus), an orrery (planetary dial), a display of the real position of the Sun and the Moon, and solar and lunar eclipses. The main attraction is the procession of the life-size figures of Christ and the Apostles which occurs every day at 12:30pm, that is at noon clock time.
1839 - Watch Mass Production - Georges-Auguste Leschot pioneered interchangeability in clockmaking by the invention of various machine tools.

1850 - 1854 - Bahnhäusle clock - Popular Black Forest Cuckoo Clock designed by Friedrich Eisenlohr, Black Forest, and built by Johann Baptist Beha.

1880 - Wristwatches - Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany orders wristwatches for German navel officers, developed by Constant Girard (Girard-Perregaux).

1884 - Greenwich Mean Time - International Meridian Conference adopts Greenwich Mean Time for consistency with Nevil Maskelyne's 18th century observations for the Method of Lunar Distances

1887 - American Railway Association held a meeting to define basic standards for watches.

1891 - Train wreck of Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway in Kipton, Ohio
From Wikipedia:
One of the engineers' watches had stopped for 4 minutes and the railroad officials commissioned Webb C. Ball as their Chief Time Inspector, in order to establish precision standards and a reliable timepiece inspection system for Railroad chronometers.
1893 - General Railroad Timepiece Standards - Set the standard for high-grade pocket watches to be used on American rails.

1928 - Quartz Clock - Joseph Horton and Warren Morrison build the first quartz crystal oscillator clock

1946 - Nuclear Magnetic Resonance - developed by Felix Bloch and Edward Purcell

1949 - Atomic Clock - Harold Lyons develops an atomic clock based on the quantum mechanical vibrations of the ammonia molecule.

1961 - Gargarin - Yuri Gargarin wears the first wristwatch in space, the Poljot.

1965 - Strela - Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov wore the first wristwatch on his space walk.

1974 - Coaxial Escapement - Invented by George Daniels.

1982 - The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH is founded by the merger of two previous organisations.

1983 - Radio-controlled clocks become common place in Europe

1994 - Radio-controlled clocks become common place in USA


(0)1999 - Clock of the Long Now - A prototype of a potential 10,000-year clock candidate was activated on December 31, 1999, and is currently on display at the Science Museum at London. The Foundation hopes to construct the finished Clock at Mount Washington south of Great Basin National Park near Ely, Nevada. From Wikipedia:
The purpose of the Clock of the Long Now is to construct a timepiece that will operate with minimum human intervention for ten millennia. It is to be constructed of durable materials, to be easy to repair, and to be made of largely valueless materials in case knowledge of the Clock is lost or it is deemed to be of no value to an individual or possible future civilization; in this way it is hoped that the Clock will not be looted or destroyed. Its power source (or sources) should be renewable but similarly unlootable.


2009 - "Self-Winding" Mobile Phone - Ulysse Nardin Chairman is an Android-powered phone with a watch winder that charges its battery.

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