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    Shortwave radio and the evolution of celestial navigation
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2018 Jun 12, 12:00 -0700

    Bob Goethe, suggesting an addition to Ed's chronology, wrote a few days ago:
    "I think the combination of transistor shortwave radios, station WWV, and Seiko's quartz watch is what finally allowed the St. Hilaire intercept-method to come into its own among small boat sailors."

    This is an interesting hypothesis. Bob, could you elaborate on your thinking here? Can you think of any evidence that would support this model? Does anyone else have thoughts on this? Did WWV really change things when it came on the air? There were other radio time signals. How about shortwave transistor radios? Transistor radios were more expensive than tube radios for quite a few years. I do agree that quartz watches made celestial navigation cheaper and therefore more accessible, but that seems like one modest innovation among many in the 1950s and 1960s. 

    One suggestion: I think you should drop any mention of the intercept method, per se, when describing this hypothesis. That strikes me as essentially irrelevant to the issue that you're raising, and surely the intercept method was the primary method of celestial navigation taught to the tens of thousands of new navigators created in the Second World War, well before the solid state electronics revolution.

    Maybe this hypothesis should be considered in connection with a bigger question. What made bluewater sailing more accessible in the past fifty years? Was it some change in celestial navigation, or were other factors really key?

    Frank Reed

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