The piezoelectric properties of crystalline quartz were discovered by Jacques and Pierre Curie in 1880. The first crystal oscillator was invented in 1917 by Alexander M. Nicholson after which, the first quartz crystal oscillator was built by Walter G. Cady in 1921. In 1927 the first quartz clock was built by Warren Marrison and J. W. Horton at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Canada. The following decades saw the development of quartz clocks as precision time measurement devices in laboratory settings—the bulky and delicate counting electronics, built with vacuum tubes, limited their practical use elsewhere. The National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) based the time standard of the United States on quartz clocks from late 1929 until the 1960s, when it changed to atomic clocks. In 1969, Seiko produced the world's first quartz wristwatch, the Astron. Their inherent accuracy and low cost of production resulted in the subsequent proliferation of quartz clocks and watches.
For light sleepers, audio alarms can be rather jarring. Fortunately, the Philips Morning Wake-Up Light uses a warm, gentle glow and natural sound effects rather than incessant beeping to get you out of bed. The alarm clock also features a colored sunrise simulation and 20 brightness settings for optimal customization. The light slowly increases in brightness between 20 and 40 minutes prior to your desired alarm time. The clock helps you drift to sleep, too. Instead of you simply turning out the lights and settling into bed, the light-responsive dimming feature gently guides you to sleep with audio accompaniment. This type of alarm is definitely not for everyone, but it is suitable for those who prefer to wake up gradually. For more details, read our full Philips Wake-Up Light review.
More than just a tool for keeping track of the time, this eye-catching wall clock helps turn any empty wall into an artful display. Crafted from injection plastic finished in a sleek metallic tone, it features a circular center with rods all around extending to stage the numbers of an analog dial. Measuring 16'' in diameter, it makes a statement on your kitchen or entryway wall without dominating the decor.
The timekeeping element of a quartz clock consists of a ring of quartz about 2.5 inches (63.5 mm) in diameter, suspended by threads and enclosed in a heat-insulated chamber. Electrodes are attached to the surfaces of the ring and connected to an electrical circuit in such a manner as to sustain oscillations. Since the frequency of vibration, 100,000-hertz, is too high for convenient time measurement, it is reduced by a process known as frequency division or demultiplication and applied to a synchronous motor connected to a clock dial through mechanical gearing. If a 100,000 hertz frequency, for example, is subjected to a combined electrical and mechanical gearing reduction of 6,000,000 to 1, then the second hand of the synchronous clock will make exactly one rotation in 60 seconds. The vibrations are so regular that the maximum error of an observatory quartz-crystal clock is only a few ten-thousandths of a second per day, equivalent to an error of one second every 10 years.