Swatch announced the idea of Internet Time on October 23, 1998, and persuaded many big-name companies, including CNN, to display it on their websites, if only for a while. Just as Greenwich Mean Time has no time zones, Internet Time is also set to a meridian, in this case, the longitude line (about 7.16E) that runs through Biel, Switzerland, the home of Swatch. As part of the inauguration of Biel Mean Time, the company painted an actual line over Swatch world headquarters to signify this new meridian.

The smallest unit of Internet Time is called a .beat, which is one thousandth of a day, exactly 86.4 seconds. Internet Time is expressed as the number of .beats since midnight in Biel, preceded by the at sign @. So, @000 would be midnight in Biel, 4PM in Los Angeles (during Daylight Saving Time), and 3PM in Los Angeles without DST.

Swatch shrewdly invited Nicholas Negroponte from the MIT Media Lab to speak at the inauguration of BMT, but Internet Time's popularity gradually waned, despite Negroponte's utopian proclamations. The idea of Internet Time seemed cool at first, unifying the globe and cyberspace, as well as simplifying the scheduling of online chats across time zones, but people seemed to get along just fine the old way, and mostly shrugged off BMT as just another variant of GMT. Swatch still sells watches that will give out the current .beat time, but they'll always allow the wearer to get the regular time as well.

There were six pixels on the screen
A two by three smudge to my eyes
That were all of you
Left in my world
But in my mind
You were alive
And I smell the jasmine on your breath
Feel snowflakes on
The furskin I carried from the shadow of Black Island.

Reality in this screen
Silicon from Russia
Transistors from China
Electric gravity born of Hetch Hetchy icemelt
Conducted by copper overland wire
PG&E stepdown
Physical layout eight layer metal TSMC process
Ninety nanometer switches
Low leakage high speed gigahertz clock rate

Cams at seventy-two north
Light from you standing
Barrow stimulating
Bytes bounced from satellites
Electromagnetically, circularly polarized
Geosynchronously orbiting
Charge dumping CCD
Webcam thirty frames per second
Sculpts before me
A smudge of six pixels
Made of nothing of you
It's all my mind
That's all of you

And I knew the volcano beneath me
Made the Erebus crystal on your bedroom floor
The glare of magma on the growling sea
Still illuminates tyrannosaurs

But here you're none,
Frozen in time,
All those things you've seen
All those things you've touched
All those things you said
Once only I heard.
The ground we've trespassed
And those nights you could not dream.
This is not my bad luck
It's all still me
And nothing of you here
That's still everything everywhen.
Time was Einstein's illusion
And I know my god Love, what happens when we die is we just

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