Genie Out of the Bottle

Industrial espionage is nothing new in fact it was widespread from the 17th century in England when Swedish spies were all over the West country till metalworking moved to the Midlands. So, it is no surprise that as soon as Harrison’s Longitude clock was announced to the world, arch rivals France were onto it. This is from the Caledonian Gazette of 1767:

“We are informed that a French artist, after having fruitlessly endeavoured to obtain from the ingenious Mr Harrison the secret of his time-piece for the discovery of longitude, has by some other means been informed of several particulars relating thereto, and that he is now in Paris under the highest patronage and protection, making such a progress therein, as, it is feared, will give the French the first possession of that most useful invention, unless the attention of this nation is speedily and vigorously directed towards the important object.”

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