John Harrison

It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention, and without a doubt, British horologist John Harrison brought that age-old proverb to life.

Born on this day in 1693, in Foulby, Yorkshire, England, Harrison was a self-educated clockmaker and carpenter who came to the rescue of countless sailors by creating the first marine chronometer to calculate longitude at sea.

Seeking to remedy naval disasters, the British government created the Board of Longitude in 1714, which offered a reward of £20,000 to anyone who could devise a navigational instrument that could find the longitude within 30 miles of a sea voyage.

Harrison took on the challenge. He set to work on his chronometer in 1728 and completed it in 1735, following up this feat with three watches that were even smaller and more on the money than his first.

Harrison’s extraordinary invention brought him much acclaim. Thanks to him, seamen could determine not only gauge latitude but longitude, making their excursions far safer.

Our colorful Doodle shows the inventor hard at work, surrounded by the tools of his trade. Today, time is on his side.

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