1704 – 1749
Who was Thomas Godfrey?
Thomas Godfrey was an optician and inventor in the American colonies, who around 1730 invented the octant. At approximately the same time an Englishman, John Hadley, also invented the octant independently.
Godfrey was born on his family's farm in Bristol Township, near Germantown, Pennsylvania.
Benjamin Franklin describes Godfrey at length in his Autobiography, referring to him as a "Great Mathematician" who nevertheless was "not a pleasing Companion", demanding in conversations a "universal Precision in every thing said."
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