Northwest Classics originated in 1985 as a sports promotion organization
to bring to the Northwest bicycle races modeled after the major
European one-day races known as the Classics.
We still work with cycling events - they're way too much fun to quit - but I haven't produced a race for several years. The consulting side of the business is growing; at least half my time currently is spent on database projects with non-profit organizations around the country. It's confusing trying to explain "Northwest Classics" to clients who have no connection to bicycle racing.
H4 is just as obscure, but it's more fun to explain.
H4 is John Harrison's version 4.0 chronometer. Completed in 1759, it was a revolutionary advance over his earlier models. Smaller, lighter and astonishingly accurate even at sea, it won the prize offered by the British Parliament's Board of Longitude in 1714 for a solution to the problem of determining longitude at sea. It was a revolutionary bit of 18th-century high-tech which changed the art of navigation to a time-keeping base (and is therefore the direct ancestor of the GPS system). And it was designed by one man.
Harrison lived in Lincolnshire in the north of England. He apprenticed to his father, a carpenter, and as a young man began building longcase and tower clocks with works entirely of wood. These clocks were extraordinarily accurate for the day, and Harrison was encouraged to develop a timekeeper to solve the "Longitude Problem". His first two versions, H1 and H2, were also wood, and although they were accurate enough, they weighed 60 to 70 pounds, and were as big as a beer keg. The next revision, H3, was not an improvement, and after 19 years of development, he abandoned it and embarked on a new, radical design. This timekeeper, H4, was revolutionary, a modern mechanical watch of brass and silver, 5 inches in diameter, weighing 3 pounds, and accurate to 1 second a day.
H4 was tested on a voyage to Barbados in 1762 and found accurate enough to qualify for the Longitude Prize. It took Harrison 10 more years to overcome the inertia of the scientific and academic establishment and to be recognized for this achievement.
H4 was revolutionary, it changed the course of history, it was major high-tech, and it was done by a single individual with little formal training. Harrison had a remarkable mechanical ingenuity, and an unstoppable persistence that enabled him to beat down the bureaucracy and realize his dream.
H4 is currently at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.