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Elmer Sperry: Gyroscopic Compass, 1914

Finding True North

In the year 1913, the gyroscopic compass of up and coming inventor Elmer Ambrose Sperry caught the attention of The Franklin Institute. Submitted for evaluation by The Franklin Institute's Committee on Science and the Arts, the invention's application was met with such satisfactory remarks that it was recommended for receipt of the John Scott Legacy Medal and Premium. On the advice of The Franklin Institute, the city of Philadelphia honored Mr. Sperry with this award in October of 1914.

The Sperry gyroscopic compass evaluation, tucked into overstuffed folders on file in Franklin Institute archives, offers a glimpse into a 20th century world overwhelmed by invention. Inventor, engineer, and entrepreneur, Sperry's desire for technological advancement compelled him to acquire hundreds of patents and to found several companies. Sperry's spirit of innovation, coupled with his entrepreneurial drive, would leave a lasting impression on a world that seemed to turn faster as it encountered myriad advancements in both engineering and economics.