Time & Frequency Books and References

In addition to a collection of old and new electronic timekeeping instruments I maintain a library of reference material related to Time & Frequency and other electronic precise timekeeping topics. Below is a list of books I would recommend divided into the following categories:

Splitting the Second: The Story of Atomic Time, Tony Jones, Institute of Physics Publishing, 2000

The best technical, readable, introduction to the world of precise Time & Frequency. Chapters include astronomer's time, physicist's time, atomic time, world time, leap seconds, time transfer, and uses of precise time. Plenty of photos and graphs. A great description of all the aspects of modern timekeeping in a thin 200-page paperback. Highly recommended.

The Quantum Beat: The Physical Principles of Atomic Clocks, F.G. Major, Springer-Verlag, 1998

This 475-page book goes much deeper into design and physics of atomic frequency standards. Published just a few years ago it contains chapters on ion and optical standards as well. Chapters include celestial and mechanical clocks; oscillators; quantum theory; magnetic resonance; rubidium; cesium; hydrogen masers; ion traps, optical frequency oscillators; laser cooling; VLBI and GPS. Highly recommended for those with a technical background.

The Measurement of Time: Time, Frequency, and the Atomic Clock, Claude Audoin & Bernard Guinot, Cambridge University Press, 2001

An in-depth book on all aspects of atomic time measurement. Chapters include: principles of time measurement; theoretical models; evolution of time measurement; clocks, oscillators, comparison, and stability; cesium, hydrogen, rubidium, and ion atomic frequency standards; international atomic time measurement; astronomical times; ultra-precise time applications. 335-pages. Highly recommended for those with a technical background.

Frequency and TIme, P. Kartaschoff, Academic Press, 1978

An older book and out of print but covers all aspects of modern precise timekeeping. Plenty of math and diagrams. Chapters include: frequency stability measures; standard frequency generators and clocks; time scales; frequency and period measurements by means of counters; phase-time measurements; frequency domain measurement techniques; and radio- signal comparison methods.

Precision Frequency Control, Eduard Gerber & Arthur Ballato, Academic Press,1985

A two volume 900-page academic book covering a wide range of precise time & frequency topics. Volume 1 is Acoustic Resonators and Filters. Volume 2 is Oscillators and Standards. Vast bibliography.

The Quantum Physics of Atomic Frequency Standards, Jacques Vanier & Claude Audoin, Adam Hilger, 1989

The ultimate treatise on the physics of atomic frequency standards in a two volume boxed set at over 2100 pages (and costing more than any book I've seen this side of a Gutenberg Bible). This is graduate school material and contains more detail on Cesium (Caesium), Rubidium, and Hydrogen maser atomic frequency standards than all other reference material combined. 

From Sundials to Atomic Clocks, James Jespersen, Jane Fitz-Randolph, NIST, 1977

From Sundials to Atomic Clocks - Understanding Time and Frequency 2000

From Sundials to Atomic Clocks, James Jespersen, Jane Fitz-Randolph, NIST, 1977

Time's Pendulum - from Sundials to Atomic Clocks, The Fascinating History of Timekeeping and 

Austron Timing Reference Handbook,

A paperback book by Austron, Inc which describes serial time codes in great detail.

Time Code: A User's Guide, John Ratcliff

Time Code

Time and Frequency Theory and Fundamentals, NBS Monograph 140

Classic NBS (now NIST) collection of papers on the subject of Time and Frequency metrology.

Much of the information is now out of date, for example, there is no mention of GPS. However, as such it is a great source of information on the older time & frequency systems, including Omega and Loran C.

Time and Frequency User's Manual, Kamas NIST, 1990


Polar Motion: Historical and Scientific Problems. IAU Colloquium 178, Steven Dick, Dennis McCarthy, Brian Luzum, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 2000

A highly technical collection of papers on the topic of polar motion (the rotation of the earth). For someone interested in the topic of precise time & frequency this collection is a humbling experience. The amount of detail is boggling. The complexity of the earth's motion is beyond anything I ever dreamed. A really good book to remind you how little you know or how narrow your field of expertise is. 650 pages. I'm sure there are better books on the subject of the earth's rotation and length of day, but this is the raw material such books would reference.

Electrical Timekeeping, An Author, Publisher, 19xx


Masers and Lasers, An Author, Publisher, 19xx


Horological Science books

My Own Right Time, An Author, Publisher, 19xx


The Science of Clocks & Watches, An Author, Publisher, 19xx


Longitude- The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, 1996


Masterpieces from The Time Museum, Sotheby's, 1999

Masterpieces from The Time Museum Part Two, Sotheby's, 2002

Technical Literature and Magazines

Characteristics of Clocks and Oscillators, An Author, Publisher, 19xx


Frequency and Time Standards, An Author, Publisher, 19xx


Handbook: Selection and use of Precise Frequency and Time Systems, An Author, ITU, 19xx


Time and Frequency Measurement, An Author, Publisher, 19xx

AN-52 Time/Frequency Series, HP, 19xx

AN-200 Electronic Counter Series, HP, 19xx

The classic set of 5 HP Application Notes. Also online:
AN 200 Fundamentals of the Electronic Counters
AN 200-1 Fundamentals of Microwave Frequency Counters
AN 200-2 Fundamentals of Quartz Oscillators
AN 200-3 Fundamentals of Time Interval Measurements
AN 200-4 Understanding Frequency Counter Specifications

Operation & Service Manual HP 5061A Cesium Beam Frequency Standard, HP, 19xx

The operation and service manual for the HP 5061A, among other instruments, provides a fascinating picture of the complexity and simplicity of making an atomic clock.

General Radio Experimenter


Hewlett-Packard Journal


Hewlett-Packard T&M Catalogs


Operation & Service Manuals


Application Notes


Time's Pendulum - from Sundials to Atomic Clocks, The Fascinating History of Timekeeping and How Our Discoveries Changed The World 1999



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