The speaking clock, or Timeline
as it is now known, is a service provided by British Telecom
whereby a recorded message gives callers the exact time. The service is constant, and available anywhere in the UK
by dialing 123. The service is sponsored by Accurist
and the time is measured by two clocks in London
The first automated time service opened in the USA in 1927, followed by Paris in 1933 and parts of England in 1936. The original British speaking clock machinery took up a whole room, in 1963 it was updated to a magnetic drum system, then again in 1984 to today's digital system, which has no moving parts. Sponsorship by Accurist
watches began in 1986 and continues to the present day, apporximately 135 million calls are made each year, making this one of the most listened to advertisemnets of all time.
The voice reading the recorded message has changed steadily over the years too. It began with Jane Cain, a BT telephonist
who read the time fom 1936-1963 when she was replaced by London Exchange
supervisor Pat Simmons. Todays voice is that of actor Brian Cobby, who won BT's "Golden Voice" competition in 1985.
The speaking clock is used by business as well as the millions of people who call each year to check their watches. ITV
television programmes are synchronised to the clock, as are British Rai
l and a VCR
programming chip factory in Hong Kong
. The clock has become a national institution over its years of service, and millions of British people instantly recognise its message,
"And at the third stroke, the time sponsored by Accurist will be beep beep beep twelve ten and thirteen seconds."
Thankyou to the nice people at www.sigtel.com/tel_index for their history on telecommunications.