Equipment used for maintaining the Greenwich Time Service, 1965-70.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Detail. This equipment, comprising six racks of electronic equipment plus ancillary items, is from the Royal Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceux, East Susex, and was used to transmit the six-pip time signal. The idea of broadcasting a public time signal was suggested by Sir Frank Dyson (1868-1939), astronomer royal, and Frank Hope-Jones, inventor of the free pendulum clock, in 1923. Dyson put the proposal to John Reith, then Director General of the BBC and, from 1924 until 1990, the BBC news headlines were preceded by the six 'pips', leading up to the start of the new minute. Since 1990, when the last pips were transmitted from the Greenwich Observatory, the BBC has originated its own pips based on satellite signals and radio transmitters.