Esteemed thinker: Eli Terry

Salvadore dali

The sun rises and sets, the day begins and the day ends; and then… we have night. It is nature’s way of giving us a sense of time. That is, until the onset of man and woman’s need to keep order, whereby the application of a clock becoming most of humanity’s wakeup call. A clock, a watch, an alarm are not just a visual guide to get you through the day, but the things that sends us scurrying or slows us down. The clock reminds us we are late for work, need to get to the airport, or a badgering cue to “get to bed”. A timepiece is essentially a device that nags us into doing things we rather not do. However, in spite of our unwillingness, we generally and reluctantly abide.

The clock is often blamed for things that are not its fault, such as “the alarm did not go off,” or, “it is slow.” But since time is a made-up, the clock really is not at fault; can it be wrong or is it perhaps not on our time-schedule.

So, the next time you are in London, and see Big Ben, perhaps it is really not just a time-piece hoovering above, but rather a reminder of your obligations! eli terry

Today’s blog brings you the esteemed thinker: Eli Terry, American inventor and modern thinker (1772-1852) Born in East Windor, Connecticut, Terry became an apprentice to a watchmaker at the age of fourteen.  Clocks at this time were handmade luxury items and considered quite a prestigious item to own. In 1793 he opened his own clock shop.  He had heard of Eli Whitney ‘s methods of interchangeable parts and realized the potential in applying this to his clock making business. Terry adapted his machines to be powered by water and with the help of hired workmen to cut the individual wheels, cogs, and other clock parts, he was able to assemble and produced finished clocks. Such a feat would change the art of clock making into mass-production by factory process.

By 1816 Eli had changed the style from pendulum to ones that were small enough to sit on a mantel. They were sold mainly to rural buyers by travelling merchants, which significant played a role in transforming the rural North from overwhelmingly agricultural to a modern market society.

The entrepreneurship and success of manufacturing clocks in large numbers grew and by 1830, western Connecticut was home to over a hundred firms, large and small, making clocks with wooden movements. Up until his death, Eli Terry continued to improve upon his inventions and help us to “keep time!”

First image: Oil on canvas by Salvador Dali, Persistence of Memory (1931)