Happy Birthday WWVB


Then: Engineer David Andrews and technician Robert Oase are shown by the WWVB transmitter in 1963. Oase is relaying instructions to an engineer in a different location tuning the antenna.
Credit: NIST

Every day, electronic gear across the world locks on to a radio signal  beamed from Fort Collins, Coloradio at the base of the Rocky Mountains in the USA. The signal contains  a message that keeps the devices on time, helping to make sure their owners  keep to their schedules and aren’t late for work the next day. 

The broadcast comes from WWVB, a station run by the National Institute for  Standards and Technology. WWVB marked half a century as the nation’s official  time broadcaster on July 5. Together with its sister station, WWV, which is  about to hit 90 years in service, the radio has been an invisible piece of  American infrastructure that has advanced industries from entertainment to  telecommunications.

 (WWV’s broadcast includes a wider range of information, including maritime  weather warnings and solar storm alerts).  Most people aren’t even aware that these stations exist, but they have a  rich and fascinating history. Their future is uncertain, however, as newer technologies threaten to make them obsolete.

Related articles:
More from the NIST web site.
The Most Important Radio Station You’ve Never Heard of Marks 50 Years on the Air


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