So as of 1905: time is relative and slows as the speed of light is approached. Calendars are a graphical representation of the passage of time based on the motion of the planets, segmenting time into days, weeks, months, and years. We now enter an age when for the first time in history precision in how we keep time becomes critical. With the advent of train travel over longer distances it became important for clocks in various cities to strike the hour at the same time. Also, if you are trying to coordinate the sharing of a single track between multiple trains, prior to the invention of radio communication, synchronized time is a matter of life and death.
As industrialization and urbanization accelerated in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the standardization and synchronization of time over distance became an important challenge to engineers. The French genius Henri Poincare was a driving force in this area. The first attempts at synchronizing clocks in a large urban area occurred in Paris using pressurized steam to pneumatically blast clocks all over the city into some semblance of synchronicity. An elaborate system of tunnels and steam pipes was developed throughout the City. Later, as the telegraph expanded its reach, the much higher speed of an electrical signal was used to synchronize clocks over large areas.
Interestingly Einstein worked in the Swiss Patent office in the late 1800’s reviewing applications for patents during the hay day of clock synchronization innovation. One can only wonder if this influenced his later thinking relative to relativity.
As the twentieth century begins, so does modern planning. Likely driven by the dawn of the industrial age, formal planning tools still in use today were created in the early 1900’s. Gantt’s innovation, the now famous Gantt chart, displays activities on a time scale and was first published in 1910 (see Figure 4). Henry Gantt was a contemporary of both Einstein and Poincare. The combination of Einstein and Poincare’s thinking generated worldwide time zones, precision in global navigation, and the foundational elements of our time-scaled, modern culture. This is the period in history when we began to understand time in the same way we understand it today. Perhaps this is why many of the time-scaled planning tools invented from 1900 forward are still in use today.
The next and penultimate installments in our history of time scaled planning series will be transported to the 1950’s and discuss the invention of the Critical Path Method as well as the development of collaborative planning techniques for the generation of time scaled plans.