Bell Telephone Laboratories Ad - Crystal Timekeeping
January 1946 Radio News

January 1946 Radio News
January 1946 Radio News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

I don't know about you, but I really miss the hard-wired POTS (Plain Ordinary Telephone System) days of remote communications. Unless the conversation was with an overseas telco system, there was never a noticeable delay where both parties were constantly either 'stepping' on each other's words or having to consciously wait before speaking to make sure the other guy has finished. Whether it be cellphone-to-cellphone or cellphone-to-VoIP, nearly every conversation is annoying. Sometimes when one party is on the POTS line with either a cell or Internet connection it can go well, but if you want a hassle-free conversation (assuming the person you're talking to is not a PiTA), you need a hard-wired connection on both ends. People loved to hate Bell Telephone back in the day, but I'll take it over what we suffer through now.

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Bell Telephone Laboratories Ad, January 1946 Radio News - RF CafeClocks with tiny crystal hearts that beat 100,000 times a second

Crystal hearts beat time in Bell Tele-phone Laboratories, and serve as standards in its electronics research. Four crystal clocks, without pendulums or escapements, throb their successive cycles without varying by as much as a second a year.

Precise time measurements may seem a far cry from Bell System telephone research, but time is a measure of frequency, and frequency is the foundation of modern communication, whether by land lines, cable, or radio.

These clocks are electronic devices developed by Bell Laboratories, and refined over years of research. Their energy is supplied through vacuum tubes, but the accurate timing, the controlling heart of the clock, is provided by a quartz crystal plate about the size of a postage stamp.

These crystal plates vibrate 100,000 times a second, but their contraction and expansion is submicroscopically small - less than a hundred-thousandth of an inch. They are in sealed boxes, to avoid any variation in atmospheric pressure, and their temperatures are controlled to a limit as small as a hundredth of a degree.

Bell Laboratories was one of the first to explore the possibilities of quartz in electrical communication, and its researches over many years enabled it to meet the need for precise crystals when war came. The same character of research is helping to bring ever better and more economical telephone service to the American people.

Bell Telephone Laboratories Exploring and inventing, devising and perfecting for continued improvements and economies in telephone service.



Posted July 28, 2020
(updated from original post on 3/27/2015)

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