The precursor to the clock was an Egyptian device that chronicled the passing of the sun on a small stone circle. It represented what we know as time today: The earth rotating in a circle as it circled around the sun, causing the level of sunlight to vary according to the time and place the circle was measuring.
Today, that small stone with the one line denoting the start of the sequence of time has transformed into a more accurate system of satellites that orbit the earth and measure the sun as the earth rotates. These are called global positioning system satellites. They are used today for many purposes, many of which are related to time.
The beginning of what would be called “the atomic clock” started with computers. In computers, time is told by a “stratum.” The stratum involves the sequencing of a computer or several computers to a master computer and time clock in Europe. This computer denoted all the times of the other computers but there could be variances.
In a system, the computer tells the time by relying on the other computers in the system to “check” the time with the others. This is called stratum computing. It works by a hierarchy. The first computer in the system sends a signal to the second and third computers in the system. The second then sends a signal to the fourth and the fifth.
The third sends it to the sixth and the seventh. By this way, the computers monitor the time and avoid any discrepancies within the system. This is a system of programming that was developed in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s by a team of researchers and engineers. It would be come the basis for the atomic clock today.
There are some statistics worth noting about the atomic clock and the stratum system. They are as follows:
- In operation since before 1985, Network Time Protocol (NTP) is one of the oldest Internet protocols still in use today.
- Precision Time Protocol (PTP) is used to synchronize clocks throughout a computer network. It was originally defined and standardized by IEEE in 2002.
- The term “stratum” refers to the closeness to a high quality time server. The stratum indicates the place of a particular time server in a hierarchy of servers. The scale goes from one to 15, with one being the most accurate.
- All 31 working satellites of the Global Positioning System (GPS) have built-in, highly accurate atomic clocks.
- Power over Ethernet (PoE) clocks deliver both power and time updates through one cable connected to the Ethernet.
- Humans have been keeping time for 5,000 to 6,000 years. The ancient Egyptians were the first to tell time by using obelisks as primitive sundials, while the first mechanical clocks were invented in Europe in the 14th century.
- The smallest unit of time is known as ‘Planck time,’ which is the time it takes for light to travel Planck’s length. Planck’s time is about 3.3 x 10 to the -44 power of a second.
Today, the global positioning systems in the world and in the United States use what is called network time protocol, which could be similar to the stratum time clock and works in much the same way. Each GPS satellite and all the GPS networks rely on network time protocol for what is called the GPS NTP server.
The GPS NTP server works much in the same way as those earlier computers did. They balance each other out using stratum synchronization or network time protocol synchronization. The GPS NTP server acts as a feed and a balance between another GPS NTP server and other GPS NTP servers that are in the network.
There are many terms associated with this. They are called WiFi digital clock, WiFi clock, WiFi digital wall clock, timeservers, time clock server, PTP time server, PTP server windows, POE network clock, NTP time clock, NTP GPS clock, NTP network time server, network wall clock, digital scoreboard, and more.
The ideas behind the stratum clock and the network time protocol have grown out of centuries of trying to figure out a way to tell the time. And although some countries have tried to change the way time is told (i.e. that time is relative), today there is a standard for telling time.