This month marks the hundredth anniversary of radio time signals. These days, we’re used to the familiar sound of the six pips on the BBC, and we can buy cheap quartz clocks and watches that get magically set right every day by distant transmitters, such as the British service from Cumbria.
Whilst experimental radio time transmissions started in the late nineteenth century, it was in May 1910 that Paris’s Eiffel Tower was used to broadcast the world’s first official regular radio time signal (more in Peter Galison’s excellent book).
Time-by-radio is just one aspect of a revolution in timekeeping that’s taken place over 150 years – the application of electricity.
Electric horology has had a huge impact on all walks of life, from marine navigation to domestic clocks, scientific measurement to clocking-on at work.
And, as technologies like mobile telephony and satellite navigation converge in consumer kit we can buy on the high street, the future’s looking bright for electric time.
We’ll be exploring the theme of ‘Electric Time’ – at sea, at work, in the lab, in everyday life and in the future.