The Clock as the Mother of All Machines

PRECISELY because the clock did not start as a practical tool shaped for a single purpose, it was destined to be the mother of machines. The clock broke down the walls between kinds of knowledge, ingenuity, and skill, and clockmakers were the first consciously to apply the theories of mechanics and physics to the making of machines. Progress came from the collaboration of scientists—Galileo, Huygens, Hooke, and others—with craftsmen and mechanics. Since clocks were the first modern measuring machines, clockmakers became the pioneer scientific-instrument makers. The enduring legacy of the pioneer clockmakers, though nothing could have been further from their minds, was the basic technology of machine tools. The two prime examples are the gear (or toothed wheel) and the screw. The introduction of the pendulum, by Galileo and then by Huygens, made it possible for clocks to be ten times more accurate than they had been, but this could be accomplished only by precisely divided and precisely cut toothed wheels. Clockmakers developed new, simpler, more precise techniques both for dividing the circumference of a circular metal plate into equal units and for cutting the gear teeth with an efficient profile. Clocks also required precision screws, which in turn required the improvement of the metal lathe.


It required a number of sciences, was based on multiple engineering developments, and contributed itself to science by allowing the measurement of time.

Folksonomies: history science culture technology

/pets/large animals (0.495841)
/technology and computing (0.488142)
/science/physics (0.374402)

multiple engineering developments (0.914854 (neutral:0.000000)), pioneer scientific-instrument makers (0.852093 (negative:-0.246472)), pioneer clockmakers (0.849779 (positive:0.428926)), modern measuring machines (0.833800 (neutral:0.000000)), circular metal plate (0.784884 (positive:0.665902)), others—with craftsmen (0.615428 (positive:0.272118)), practical tool (0.612303 (neutral:0.000000)), single purpose (0.611659 (neutral:0.000000)), basic technology (0.586349 (positive:0.345833)), machine tools (0.585978 (positive:0.345833)), precision screws (0.585072 (positive:0.384541)), prime examples (0.583787 (negative:-0.314936)), precise techniques (0.579015 (positive:0.665902)), equal units (0.576093 (positive:0.665902)), gear teeth (0.569563 (positive:0.665902)), efficient profile (0.566010 (positive:0.665902)), clocks (0.521507 (positive:0.384541)), Huygens (0.488820 (neutral:0.000000)), mother (0.426022 (neutral:0.000000)), mechanics (0.420856 (positive:0.272118)), Hooke (0.378395 (neutral:0.000000)), circumference (0.375872 (positive:0.665902)), ingenuity (0.374725 (positive:0.340001)), pendulum (0.370699 (neutral:0.000000)), Galileo (0.357868 (neutral:0.000000)), number (0.356268 (neutral:0.000000)), sciences (0.356222 (neutral:0.000000)), minds (0.356018 (neutral:0.000000)), science (0.355925 (neutral:0.000000)), measurement (0.355833 (neutral:0.000000))

clockmakers:Company (0.940697 (negative:-0.246472)), Huygens:Person (0.493944 (neutral:0.000000)), Hooke:Person (0.269137 (neutral:0.000000)), Galileo:Person (0.262598 (neutral:0.000000))

Clock (0.984040): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Time (0.963448): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Pendulum (0.860367): dbpedia | freebase
Christiaan Huygens (0.837311): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Machine (0.792146): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Pendulum clock (0.765409): dbpedia | freebase
Escapement (0.727768): dbpedia | freebase
Physics (0.719544): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 The discoverers
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Boorstin, Daniel Joseph (1983), The discoverers, Random House Inc, Retrieved on 2013-08-08
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: