Company History





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The idea of a standard time, to be communicated from a centre by electricity, was suggested to C. D. Warner of Ansonia, in 1882. Observing the power of a telegraph sounder, it occurred to him that this power could be used to move a clock, and he soon afterward constructed an electric clock, moving once in a second. The conception was original with Mr. Warner, but he afterward met with a French clock movement based on the same principle.

His first use of the principle was in the window of his own store. He hung a clock there which was connected electrically with the regulator in the room behind. The attention of Thomas Wallace & Sons, of Ansonia, being called to the invention, they offered to put up wires for a circuit, and buy clocks to connect with it, if Mr. Warner would furnish them and agree to keep them running. He purchased French movements and connected them with a circuit extending to the factory of Wallace & Sons, and to the residences of the members of the firm.

About this time Mr. Warner discovered that a clock moving once a minute, by electricity, had been invented by Vitalis Himmer, a watchmaker in New York City. Mr. Warner adopted the idea of a minute movement, and he and Mr. Himmer became connected with a company that was formed to turn their idea to practical use. The Time Telegraph company was organized in 1883. It bought up all the patents bearing upon the new invention that could be found, and gave Mr. Warner an exclusive license for Ansonia and Derby. He withdrew from the company, but under their license began setting up wire circuits in Ansonia and Birmingham. The plant thus established developed into a large business, and Mr. Warner while carrying it on secured some important patents, including an electric gauge for testing the strength of currents.

The attention of Waterbury men had in the meantime been directed to the new invention, and in 1886 George M. Chapman, in his own behalf and as the representative of John W. Hill and George E. Judd, procured a license from Mr. Warner to use his patents, and organized the Electric Time company. The stockholders were J. W. Hill, G. M. Chapman, C. S. Chapman, F. N. Perry and E. D. Welton. But in January, 1887, the Standard Electric Time company was organized, controlling the patents of C. D. Warner for the United States. This new organization bought out Mr. Warner's business in Ansonia and also the Electric Time company of Waterbury. The main office was in Waterbury, but a general manager's office was established in New Haven, as well as a manufactory of electric clocks, switch-boards, etc. In 1891, New Haven being regarded as the most advantageous field, the main office was also transferred to that city.

In June, 1894, however, the stock of the company passed into the hands of Waterbury men, and the office was again established here. The entire plant was also removed to this city, where it has been enlarged in various directions. Less attention is given than at first to the developing of city systems, but the establishment of isolated plants with which all the clocks in a large concern shall be connected has grown to be an important feature of the business. For example, the new offices of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad company in New Haven are furnished with sixty clocks, and all of these are connected with a central regulator.

In 1892 the company began manufacturing a self-winding clock, wound by two cells of battery. They have also introduced electric tower clocks, in which a pendulum and heavy weights are dispensed with, and accurate time secured for the several dials through connection with a regulator below. One of these tower clocks was placed in the tower of the Arlington mills, Lawrence, Mass., in July, 1892, another in the station of the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad. The battery by which a tower clock is propelled has to be charged not oftener than once in two years.

At the annual meeting of the Standard Electric Time company, January, 1895, Henry L. Wade was elected president and George E. Judd treasurer. Leroy Upson was made secretary and general manager, and Charles D. Warner mechanical superintendent.

Earliest known advertisement of Charles D. Warner
Earliest known advertisement of Charles D. Warner. From the Ansonia-Derby, Connecticut Directory, 1883, Page 227.

From the Archives of The Standard Electric Time Co.

(Copied from Original Document)


Dated July 12th, 1883.

M E M O R A N D U M  O F  A G R E E M E N T.

This MEMORANDUM of AGREEMENT made and entered into by and between CHARLES D. WARNER of Ansonia, Connecticut, Party of the First Part, and "THE TIME TELEGRAPH COMPANY", a Company organized under the laws of the State of New York, and having a place of business in the City of New York, Party of the Second Part,

W I T N E S S E T H  WHEREAS the said Party of the First Part is desirous to control the Time Service as operated under the Patents of the said Party of the Second Part, for and in the Town of Derby in the State of Connecticut, NOW THEREFORE for and in consideration of the sum of One Dollar, and other valuable considerations, the said "THE TIME TELEGRAPH COMPANY" hereby agrees to give and does hereby give to the said WARNER, Party of the First Part, the exclusive right to operate the said Time Service in the Town aforesaid, under the Patents, or any improvements thereon, of the said Party of the Second Part, during the life of the said Patents.

It is hereby understood and agreed by the said WARNER, Party of the First Part, that in consideration of the above grant by the said Second Party, that he will not use or operate, or cause to be used or operated, any other Time Service in the Town aforesaid, than the Time Service owned and controlled by the said Second Party.

The said WARNER also further agrees, in consideration of the above grant, that he will neither engage directly of indirectly in the business of any Time Service whatsoever outside of the territory herein described and granted to the said First Party; neither will he engage in the manufacture or sale of apparatus or material which may be used in opposition to the interests of the Party of the Second Part.

In consideration of the above agreement by the said Party of the First Part, "THE TIME TELEGRAPH COMPANY", Party of the Second Part, agrees to furnish the said WARNER, all the Clocks and Apparatus connected with the said Time Service in the territory above mentioned, at cost price, that is to say, the said Party of the Second Part will charge no profit upon the Apparatus so furnished, only charging sufficient to cover equitable cost.

I N  W I T N E S S  W H E R E O F  the parties hereto have hereunto set their hands and seals this 12th day of July, 1883.

(signed) The Time Telegraph Co
by Chester H Pond
Charles D. Warner

(signed) Bart H Madden

Advertisement for THE TIME TELEGRAPH CO.
From THE ELECTRICAL WORLD, October 13, 1883. Advertisement for THE TIME TELEGRAPH CO. from the period during which Charles D. Warner became associated with the firm. By 1885 the TELEGRAPHIC TIME COMPANY had been organized as its successor.
Small secondary clock by The Time Telegraph Co. of New York City
Small secondary clock by The Time Telegraph Co. of New York City, circa 1883. Molded gutta percha front; dial diameter, 5 1/2 inches. Each rental system clock was given a number; this clock's dial bears the handwritten number 1388.
72 beat self-winding regulator by Chester Pond of New York City
Early #6 72 beat self-winding regulator by Chester Pond of New York City. This is one of several styles sold by The Standard Electric Time Company after installing their contacts and controls for operating secondary equipment. Case of ash; original finish.


A New Electric Clock System.


To make an electric clock system pay is quite essential, and it cannot be done without first giving satisfaction to the subscribers. To do this, however, the details oftentimes make the expense so high that the business is unprofitable, as something more than good clocks and regulators is required. Accidents will happen to the circuit, batteries will run low, and many other troubles will arise to make the service unsatisfactory and costly.

The writer, having made this problem a study for several years, has devised a central station system whereby the manager may know at his office the condition of each circuit at all times, and in case of accident to any circuit he may confine the trouble to a part of the circuit, and locate the difficulty immediately, thus avoiding delay and annoyance.

The accompanying engraving represents the station equipment on this system having six circuits, but any number may be so arranged, each circuit being represented by a small electric clock as an indicator.

Every circuit is run as two separate lines after leaving the station. Taking, for instance, a certain street, one line is run on each side and grounded at each clock. At the extreme end they are connected into a metallic circuit with a ground connection in about the centre. Every clock or building the line enters has a ground switch and cut-out and these are in readiness for use to cut out any portion of the circuit in case of fire or of any damage to the line that cannot be immediately repaired. One pole of the main battery passes through a relay where the circuit is closed, thence through a brass plate and switch direct to line. The other pole goes direct to an indicator, thence to a spring jack through a plate and switch to the other pole, and then to line. Between these two plates is a ground plate arranged in the ordinary way to connect to either line plate by a plug.

In case of the circuit being open the indicator shows the precise time that it was opened and how all the clocks stand on the circuit. By inserting the plug in line 1 (if that be the disabled line) the other line and indicator will start, when those clocks may be jumped to the correct time, which will be told by the indicator.

Between the line switches of each circuit is a switch point connected to one cell of battery, the other pole of which is connected to earth. The switch of the disabled line is moved over to this point, making a direct circuit from battery out to the open line. The inspector follows the current of this test battery from one ground switch to another until the trouble is discovered.

The line being repaired the main plug is changed from line 1 to line 2, while the clocks on line 1 are jumped to place, which will be shown by the indicator of that circuit.

Included in the indicator is an electric gauge, to which is attached a cord and wedge, the latter being so arranged that it may be inserted in any circuit by the spring jack and thus is noted the current strength of each line, which is kept as low as possible compatible with safety.

In large cities, where a great number of clocks are used in each block, gauge and indicator are used in a local regulator with the same switching arrangement contained in it. This system has been in use in Ansonia and Birmingham, Conn., for over two years, and has given entire satisfaction in every way.

(United States Patent No. 335,860 issued February 9, 1886. --Ed.)

Warner  Time System engraving

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United States Patent No. 363,440

The 1880's saw rapid advancement and intense competition in the field of electrical horology. Many new companies fell by the wayside after making a promising start. Looking backward, it is apparent that the secondary clock movement developed by Charles Warner more than any other single factor assured the ultimate success of the business he founded and named The Standard Electric Time Company. Here, in Warner's own words, excerpted from United States Patent No. 363,440, dated May 24, 1887, are described the key features of his invention:

"This arrangement of these parts is essential in various particulars. Thus it is to be noticed that by using a second wheel like the propelling-wheel, but reversing its teeth, I am enabled to construct a simple and efficient stop upon the armature arm and arrange it so that it will not bear upon or engage the stop-wheel until until such wheel has arrived at the point where it is desired to have it stopped-- that is, the motion of the stop on the armature-arm is such that it enters the space in front of a tooth at the same proportionate rate of speed that the tooth advances, but without bearing upon the tooth, and so comes full in front of the next tooth, to positively and with certainty arrest the wheel when such next tooth comes in contact therewith. So, also, this stop serves to limit the downward movement of the armature-arm, and obviates a special stop for this purpose.

"The use of the gravity pawl on the armature-arm (as distinguished from a spring actuated pawl) is important, in that it serves to prevent the advancement of the time indicating hands when the line containing such clocks is affected by lightning discharges-- that is, such a discharge is very quick and sudden in its effect on the clock-magnets, causing the armatures to respond with a sharp snap-like blow, which, however, is not too quick to advance the clock when it is impelled by a spring actuated pawl or similar device. In the present structure the armature pawl is caused to drop in front of a tooth by gravity. It is also given a wide space in which to swing at its upper end, but prevented from turning over on its pivot by the bent end of the arm. When a sudden and short impulse, such as a lightning discharge, is sent over the line containing this mechanism, the pawl of the armature-arm will be thrown out from the impelling-wheel and up against the bent end of the arm, and, as the permitted swing of the pawl is much greater than the short play of the armature, the armature will return to its normal position before the pawl can fall back upon its wheel, so as to engage an advance tooth, the result being that no advancement of the hands will be caused from such effects. When the clocks are driven by the central or main office current, such current will be maintained so as to permit the impelling pawl to fall back and in front of a new tooth on the impelling-wheel."

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A New Self-Winding Clock

The Standard Electric Time Company, of New Haven, Conn., has just placed a new self-winding clock on the market which is very simple in its construction and very neat in its appearance.

The springs for operating these clocks are kept wound to a uniform tension by two cells of battery operating upon an electromagnet at regular intervals, which does away with the electric motor ordinarily used for this purpose, making it much less complicated and less liable to get out of order. Being kept at a uniform tension these clocks are more likely to keep excellent time.

A synchronizer or setting device is also furnished, so arranged that the hands may be set forward or backward by simply pressing a key in the bottom of the case; or, they may be set from a distance by attaching wires from the top of the case to a key or telegraph instrument, which will make them very valuable for railroads.

(News item from an 1891 issue of THE ELECTRICAL WORLD and accompanied by an illustration showing a 72-beat clock. In later production, the synchronizer described was installed more or less exclusively in 120-beat clocks, and activated only from a remote location.)

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Standard Electric license Standard Electric License for Isolated Plant Standard Electric License for Isolated Plant

The Forgotten Foxboro Years

From the Archives of the Foxboro Company, Foxboro, Massachusetts

(Author Unknown)

The Standard Electric Time Company was incorporated in Connecticut February 7, 1887, by 16 stockholders. Authorized capital of $25,000 consisted of 1,000 shares of par value $25.00 each. 600 shares were issued originally. The largest stockholder was Charles D. Warner with 130 shares. On February 22, 1887, seven Directors were elected. The officers were John W. Hill, President, and C. S. Chapman, Secretary-Treasurer. Although we have no records concerning the operation of the Company over the next ten years, it seems certain that there were operational and financial difficulties. On November 21, 1890 the authorized capital was increased to $14,375 (575 shares). The stockholders had been reduced to four at that time. H. L. Wade was President and held 310 shares. Further changes were made at a stockholders' meeting May 3, 1895, when the capital stock was reduced to $10,000 (400 shares).

Various changes in stockholders and management personnel did not result in profitable operation. In July 1897 the officers were authorized "to wind up the affairs of the Company either by a receiver or by selling at private sale." The latter course was taken and on September 10, 1897, the stock was sold as follows:

George L. Riggs 195 shares
J. O. Lyman 185 "
J. J. Esterbrook 20 "

The new stockholders met on this date and were elected Directors. The officers were J. O. Lyman, President, and George L. Riggs, Secretary-Treasurer. They were reelected in 1907 and 1908.

The Standard Electric Time Company manufactured self-winding electric clocks and clock systems operated on battery current. They had sales offices in Boston, New Haven and New York. The main office and factory was in Waterbury. George L. Riggs was the General Manager. He appears to have acquired a controlling interest in the Blodgett Clock Company of Boston. Blodgett made a patented self-winding electric clock movement which was used in Standard Electric Time Company clocks and by other clock makers.

It is probable that the panic of 1907 resulted in further financial difficulties for the Time Company, since in May or June 1908, George L. Riggs entered into negotiations with The Industrial Instrument Company to take over both The Standard Electric Time Company and the Blodgett Clock Company. An agreement was drawn up in August 1908, which is briefed as follows:



"Vendor agrees to sell the entire capital stock of The Standard Electric Time Company consisting of 400 shares of $25.00 each and the entire capital stock of the Blodgett Clock Company, located in Portland, Maine, and doing business in Boston, Mass., consisting of 1,000 shares of $25.00 each, for the entire sum of $69,000.

"In case the Vendor shall fail to deliver an amount of the stock of the Blodgett Clock Company, not exceeding 42 shares, this contract shall still hold good but the Vendee shall be entitled to a reduction of $25.00 per share on the purchase price for every one such shares not delivered. (30 shares were not delivered and the final purchase price was $68,250.)

"This sale is made upon the basis of a certain schedule of assets and liabilities of The Standard Electric Time Company and of the Blodgett Clock Company dated August 15, 1908. The Vendor warrants that The Standard Electric Time Company and the Blodgett Clock Company have no other liabilities as of the date of August 15, 1908, which are not included in the aforesaid schedule.

"In place of the sum of $25,000 in cash the Vendor may, at his option, demand as part of the purchase price, convertible debentures of the Vendee of the face value of the whole or any part of said $25,000. Said debentures shall be payable August 15, 1918, with interest at the rate of 6 percent quarterly... or may be converted into 8 percent preferred stock of the Vendee. (Riggs actually received $31,000 in debentures.)

"Vendor covenants that he will not engage in any business carried on by either The Standard Electric Time Company or the Blodgett Clock Company, either directly or indirectly... within five years from date hereof in any place in the United States except the state of Nevada."

This agreement was probably signed August 15, 1908, or shortly thereafter. However, the actual date when The Industrial Instrument Company took over the operation of the Time Company appears on the account books as October 1, 1908. The statement of assets and liabilities dated August 15, 1908, referred to in the agreement is not available. From other records it is stated that the net worth of the Blodgett Clock Bompany was about $19,500. A financial statement of The Standard Electric Time Company as of December 31, 1908, was detailed as follows:

Cash in bank $ 392.39  
Advanced funds 355.00  
Note Receivable 10.00  
Accts    " 12,468.33 13,225.72
Stocks   17,916.82
Factory equipment 12,156.95  
Office    " 1,123.61  
Branch Office    " 1,010.41 14,290.97
Construction of Time systems   8,081.09
Real estate   29,000.00
Prepaid insurance   304.93
Patents   845.00
Undiscovered bal. Oct.   11.63
Accts payable 910.07  
Notes    " 15,000.00  
Mortgages    " 16,500.00 32,410.07
Capital 10,000.00  
Surplus 38,624.05 48,624.05
Estimated profit 2,641.69 $83,675.81

From the above statement which was probably similar in many respects with the August 15 schedule, it can be assumed that the net worth of the Time Company was about $50,000 at the date of sale. The item under liabilities for "notes payable - $15,000" was for cash advanced by The Industrial Instrument Company over the first four months of operation as the Time Company was in need of working capital.

The Standard Electric Time Company retained its corporate identity after the change in ownership. Officers of the Company were Watson E. Goodyear, President; George L. Riggs, Treasurer and General Manager; Bennet B. Bristol, Secretary. Presumably they were the Board of Directors. There are no records now available of stockholders' meetings or of the Directors' meetings. The general office and factory was in Waterbury until May 1910 when the factory machinery and stock was moved to Foxboro. All billing and accounting was done at Waterbury. Monthly production, sales, and financial reports were made to The Industrial Instrument Co.

The Time Company sales offices had been established in Boston, New Haven, and New York for many years. In November 1909 a branch office was opened in San Francisco. A formal selling agreement was made with The Industrial Instrument Co., Inc. (N.Y.) to supplement the efforts of the Time Company salesmen. The agreement was to pay commission on sales for industrial applications only. The basic commission was 12 percent and in addition a volume commission applied at the end of each year starting with a minimum volume of $5,000.

However, it does not appear that the Industrial Instrument salesmen had the time or the inclination to work on Time Company products. The available records show only two commissions totalling $15.22 were paid to The Industrial Instrument Co., Inc., in 1910. The sales agreement was cancelled in April 1912. Two sales bulletins (#22 and #32) were published on electric clocks and time systems. Considerable space was given to time systems in the "Foxboro Recorder" beginning with the January 1909 issue (Vol. I, No.1) and in most of the subsequent issues.

Orders received totalled $41,768 in 1909 and increased to $62,345 in 1910. The Time Company also installed on a rental contract, complete time systems. Their income from rentals in 1909 was $3,167 and $3,099 in 1910. There are no figures to show total capital invested in these rental systems, nor the cost of maintenance service.

Although the factory production reports indicated a gross profit each year, the home office and branch office expenses more than offset the manufacturing profit. The net operating loss for 1909 was $16,220 and for 1910 was $13,546. Operating loss continued into 1911 and at the end of February totalled $1,528. This is the last record available. Factory inventory of $12,500 on December 31, 1908, had increased to $27,300 a year later and to about $32,000 on December 31, 1910. It cost $1010 to move the factory equipment to Foxboro, and shortly thereafter about $2,000 was spent for new tools and machinery.

To finance the losses and increasing expenditures the Time Company borrowed on notes given to The Industrial Instrument Co. At the end of 1908 these notes totalled $15,000 and on November 30, 1909, had increased to $45,000. At this point the capital stock of the Time Company was increased to $60,000, and the item for notes due was eliminated from their liabilities.

Further bookkeeping adjustments were made in 1910. On June 1st, just after the Time Company had moved to Foxboro, the Gauge Company debited $30,000 on their books "for stocks and machinery purchased from the Standard Electric Time Company as of June 1, 1910. Their values on machinery and their reserves on same carried onto our books subject to revision when actual inventory is completed." (This inventory appraisal was never made.) The Time Company account was credited with $22,000 and with $8,000 for depreciation reserves. On August 31, 1910, the Gauge Company transferred 210 shares of Industrial Instrument 8 percent preferred stock which they had been holding, to the Time Company, plus $700 due in interest. This total of $21,700 was to replace the $22,000 credit made on June 1st.

The Standard Electric Time Company was just one of the several subsidiary companies of the Industrial Instrument Company in which Watson E. Goodyear had been made a Director and President. In the two or more years of his administration each company failed to make any profit for the Holding Company and losses accumulated steadily. Confidence in Goodyear's management ability reached a point where there was no question about relieving him of all of his connections, which was done early in 1911. There is no record to show who took his position with the Time Company.

At a special meeting of the stockholders of The Industrial Instrument Company held in Waterbury May 13, 1911, it was voted to approve the sale of The Standard Electric Time Company back to George L. Riggs. The actual sale had been made May 1st by the Board of Directors. The terms of the sale included the purchase from Riggs by The Industrial Instrument Company of 150 shares of their preferred stock, in consideration of which:

(1) George L. Riggs paid $5,000 to The Industrial Instrument Co.

(2) George L. Riggs and his wife Clara W. Riggs, deliver to The Industrial Instrument Co. $16,000 of its debentures.

(3) The Standard Electric Time Company to pay The Industrial Instrument Co. $8,500 in notes held by The Industrial Inst. Co.

(4) And for other considerations received by The Industrial Instrument Co. and explained at this meeting.

On the Profit & Loss account of The Industrial Instrument Co. under date of June 30, 1911, sale of the Time Company is entered as $82,550.00. Since December 31, 1909, the value of the Time Company (and Blodgett) stock had been carried as an asset on the books of The Industrial Instrument Co. at $118,250, having been increased by $50,000 over the original purchase price of $68,250 when the stock of the Time Company was increased from $10,000 to $60,000.

An injunction dated May 12, 1911, to prevent the sale of the Time Company was obtained in Superior Court, Boston, by Henry J. Stevenson who was apparently backed by Watson E. Goodyear. There were, however, several errors in the citation and as the Time Company had actually been sold prior to the injunction, and by a Connecticut corporation, lawyer Noyes was able to have the suit dismissed.

The Time Company moved its property from Foxboro in May 1911 to a plant in Springfield, Mass. During the year they were at Foxboro the south building was equipped with a master clock with a program tape operating secondary clocks in various locations, as well as several departmental time-card clocks. The big clock on the south tower was installed during that year.


Chronological History of


According to


(From "Standard Greets You", handout for visitors, ca. 1969)

Milestones of Standard THRU THE YEARS

1884... Only 6 years after Edison invented the electric light Charles Warner had an idea he could make clock hands move by an electromagnet. He fashioned a crude model, connected it to a battery and they DID move -- he had invented the ELECTRIC CLOCK! Next he fitted some contacts to an ordinary pendulum clock making a master clock to impulse the other and THE ELECTRIC CLOCK SYSTEM WAS BORN! Warner called his enterprise THE STANDARD ELECTRIC TIME CO.

1893... Warner hired an energetic boy of 19, George L. Riggs, as "jack of all trades".

1897... Mr. Riggs bought out the Company for $6,000. He remained its head until his passing in 1928 and now his widow, Frances Riggs Young, is President and active at her desk every day.

1911... The Company moved from Waterbury to Springfield. Since then 9 additions have been made to the plant -- 5 since World War II.

1926... The Standard Electric Time Co. of Canada, Ltd. was formed with a factory in Montreal.

1926... The Laboratory Panel line started.

1926... Hospital Signal Systems first made.

1932... The Precision Timer made and marketed.

1934... The development and sale of the Chrono-Tachometer.

1950... Analogue computer put on market.

1954... Pioneered an Automatic Nurse Calling System.

1956... Developed and introduced Centralized Emergency Lighting Systems.

1959... Major plant addition completed.

1961... Practi-Call, all purpose school communication system introduced.

1963... Utility Control Systems marketed.

1965... Monitor I signaling and communication console developed.

1968... STANDARD ELECTRIC TIME CORP., a subsidiary of Johnson Service Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, formed as successor to Company.

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Jeffrey R. Wood, creator of the Standard Electric Time Co. (SETCO) pages of, passed away in August of 2018. I will maintain the SETCO web pages in honor of Jeff, but will not be making any additions or changes, or answering any questions. It is hard to express how much I miss Jeff, his friendship, and his wonderful contributions to Standard Electric and Westclox research.

Bill Stoddard

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