Article ID: CBB000954000

War and Peacetime Research on the Road to Crystal Frequency Control (2010)


Crystal frequency control, an essential ingredient in the electronics revolution, was invented in the aftermath of World War I by Walter Cady. Cady exploited his thorough knowledge of a scientific phenomenon called piezoelectricity, on which he gathered expertise during a wartime crash program in submarine detection, the first technological application of the phenomenon. With armistice Cady, a university professor of physics, could change his focus toward open-ended scientific research. He examined results observed earlier in the attempt to utilize piezoelectric crystals, leading him to the discovery of their sharp and steady resonance. Encouraged by professional and personal relationships with corporations and governmental agencies, and by his war experience, Cady followed his findings to design practical devices. Yet he maintained the identity and practices of a physicist, experimentally and theoretically exploring the phenomena further. Like many scientists, he was an occasional rather than professional inventor. This story reveals connections and overlaps but also differences between the kind of research carried out at an industrial research laboratory and at a university.

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Authors & Contributors
Katzir, Shaul
Murray, Susan
Peter B. Thompson
Bill Cahill
Thomas I. Faith
Regele, Lindsay Schakenbach
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Business and Economic History On-Line
Air Power History
VIET: Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki
Science in Context
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
University of Illinois Press
The MIT Press
Harvard University Press
Duke University Press
Technology and war; technology and the military
Technological innovation
World War I
World War II
Johnson, Clarence L.
Zworykin, Vladimir Kosma
Rutherford, Ernest, 1st Baron
Langevin, Paul
Colt, Samuel
Cady, Walter G.
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
19th century
United States
Great Britain
Radio Corporation of America
Harvard University
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

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