My first job out of college was to help build this clock. The funding was from a Navy contract that had about 6 months left, and most of the hardware and optics had been designed, but none of the control software was done yet. My boss handed me 2/3 of the microprocessor’s manual and a few c files that compiled but were “mostly broken.” We were able to pull it together and deliver a VERY FRAGILE prototype just in time, and get funding to continue working on the project.
A product like this was designed to sacrifice some performance in exchange for serious reductions in power consumption. We were able to nearly reach the theoretical performance limit while dropping the power consumption to a mere 2-3% of other commercially available clocks. And patent some stuff along the way.
I found out this past weekend that the company is finally going under after 33 years. I worked there for 7 of those years and had great mentors who had previously worked at places like Bell Labs, Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysics Laboratory, HP, Mathworks, and Arecibo Observatory (you remember it from the movie Contact).
A small handful of us left the company within a few months of each other in 2008, and I’m not sure if they ever replaced us. I learned a lot there, and it’s weird to think that all of the work I did there is just going to collect dust and fade away.