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Astro*Dictionary by Michael Erlewine





1 article for "Harrison, John"

Harrison, John [Astro*Index]

(1693-1776) English instrument maker. Born at Foulby, Yorkshire; died at London.

When the British government offered a series of prizes (up to 20,000 pounds) for the development of an accurate ship's chronometer, Harrison responded by building 5 clocks, the first four of which were heavy, complicated, and expensive. But, the fifth was the size of a large watch. All of his designs met the conditions of the prizes. The son of a carpenter, Harrison was a Yorkshire mechanic, and self-trained; he was not a member of the Royal Society. The British Parliament displayed a shocking lack of fairness, delaying payments to Harrison, and increasing their demands for greater precision (all of which were met by Harrison). Not until King George III offered to serve as counselor for Harrison was this problem resolved. Harrison's chronometer began a new era for navigation at sea; his invention was not to be excelled for nearly 150 years, by the introduction of radio communications.


Astro*Index Copyright © 1997 Michael Erlewine