Speaking Clock

The end of the ‘talking clock’ service was met with public dismay in September 2019. Delivered manually by Postmaster-General telephonists until the 1950s and then electronically via optical recordings on glass discs and finally digitally from the 1990s, the time-telling service was a mainstay of worldwide telecommunications offerings. The talking clock provided twenty-four-hour updates at ten second intervals and was often relied upon to reset clocks upon daylight savings.

Dial-for information services extended beyond the temporal. Sporting enthusiasts could ‘Dial a Cricket Champ’ and Telemed services offered by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners educated a thong-wearing public on the dangers of tetanus in the garden. Though there is more information at our fingertips than ever before, the service remained popular into its twilight years with 2 million annual calls. Indeed, modern voice assistants may be this century’s answer to the much-loved information service.