Transfer of master clock network technology to Czechoslovakia: Elektročas or Elektrozeit? German roots of Czechoslovak post-war timepieces 1923–1990

Authors

  • David Hamr Czech Technical University in Prague, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Historical Laboratory of (Electro)Technology, Technická 2, 166 27 Prague, Czech Republic

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.14311/AP.2024.64.0205

Keywords:

history of technology, Czechoslovakia, technological transfer, timepieces industry, 20th century, centrally controlled economy, uniform time, master clock, master clock network technology, modernity

Abstract

Industrial production of timepieces began in the Czech lands as early as the end of the 19th century. Public systems providing coordinated time data (information) began to be successfully distributed on a larger scale in Czechoslovakia by the company Jednotný čas in the first third of the 20th century. After that, the company changed its name several times, especially from the 1950s, to Elektročas/ZPA Pragotron. The company produced clocks for both the public and industry as well as split-flap displays for transport. Almost all clocks at Czechoslovak railway stations, airports, public spaces, public buildings, and offices came from this company. The mentioned clocks (their mechanical parts) required a lot of maintenance, as other devices depended on their correct functioning, e.g. clocks recording the observance of working hours in enterprises (punchclocks). The process of forming the company is interesting not only from the point of view of the implementation of time into the public civic space, but also from the point of view of details, e.g. the technological transfer of timekeeping technology from Germany to Czechoslovakia during the 20th century. Specifically, the technology known as uniform time (master clock networks taken over from the German company Elektrozeit by the Czech enterprise Elektročas). The topic of the article is, therefore, the analysis of the process of adoption of this technology and its later use in the second half of the 20th century in socialist Czechoslovakia.

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References

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Published

2024-07-09

Issue

Section

History of Science and Technology