Dr. David William Dye was the third son of Alderman Charles Dye who was Mayor of Portsmouth in 1906. He was born on December 30th 1887 at Portsmouth and attended the Municipal Technical College in Park Road before graduating in Electrical Engineering at the University of London. This was followed by an apprenticeship at the British Thomson-Houston Company at Rugby before he joined the National Physical Laboratory in 1910.
There he joined the Electrical Measurements Division and worked under A. Campbell developing methods for the testing of magnetism in iron and its alloys, standards of inductance and the measurement of currents in radio frequency. He took over the department on the retirement of Campbell and in 1919 became responsible for the entire Division of Electrical Standards and Measurements. He was therefore, at the age of only 32, in charge of the Laboratory's primary standards of electricity and magnetism.
Dye went on to develop the fundamental standards of frequency much of it involving the examination of the tuning fork and it's use as a precision timing standard when maintained in continuous vibration. The outcome was a national standard wave meter of astounding accuracy. This work formed the basis of the standard clock to an accuracy of one part in a million which was a massive improvement over existing methods of measurement which were accurate to only one part in a thousand. Dye continued to work on the reliability of his device, eventually turning to the piezo-electrical crystal to develop the first quartz clock.
By 1927 he had turned his attention to the development of a magnetometer capable of measuring the vertical element of the earth's magnetic field. The instrument he produced was so accurate that it was incorporated into the Abinger Magnetic Observatory.
Dye was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1928, served on various national and international committees and presided over the Commission for Radio Standards. Sadly he died at the early age of 44 years but had already established his name as one of the finest electrical engineers of his time.
The Royal Society Obituary