Historic Gyroscope Stabilizers

Elmer Sperry harnessed the principles of the gyroscope in compasses for ship navigation in World War I and beyond. This stailizer was built in 1916 for the yacht Aramis. Web extra from our August 2012 issue.

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Elmer Sperry harnessed the principles of the gyroscope in compasses for ship navigation as well as fire control systems for battleship and antiaircraft guns through both world wars and beyond. Before the wars, he also produced a handful of gyrostabilizers for yachts. This one was installed aboard the 157-foot Aramis, built in 1916 for Goodrich Rubber Company executive Arthur Marks.

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Aramis was pressed into naval service in the first world war. In November 1917, sporting new submarine-detecting microphones and depth charges, she patrolled the waters off Long Island, New York. Logs show limited action -- one encounter with a submarine and the rescue of the crew of a torpedoed Norwegian ship. To read about the modern electronic stabilizers, click here.