Variations and combinations: Invention and development of quartz clock technologies at AT&T

Shaul Katzir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Quartz clock technologies played a central role in twentieth century timekeeping, telecommunication and society at large. This article explores the process of the invention and construction of the first quartz clock by Warren Marrison and his associate researchers at AT&T, who needed the clock to monitor the corporation’s self-maintained crystal-controlled frequency standard. The frequency standard was deemed essential for the needs of electronic telecommunication in the 1920s. Based on research notebooks and contemporary publications, this article examines the origins of the technology in the corporation’s earlier tuning-fork-frequencystandard, which included the first electronic clock. Providing a detailed examination of the various electronic methods used by Marrison and his colleagues and their origins, the article examines the way the modern, scientifically educated inventor, working within a large industrial laboratory and enjoying its rich material and intellectual resources, collected, combined and adjusted the resources at his disposal to produce novelty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-114
Number of pages37
StatePublished - 2016


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