the end of time

Time of day calling it quits at AT&T

Richard Frenkiel was assigned to work on the time machines when he joined Bell Labs in the early 1960s. He described the devices as large drums about 2 feet in diameter, with as many as 100 album-like audio tracks on the exterior. Whenever someone called time, the drums would start turning and a message would begin, with different tracks mixed together on the fly.


Daniels switched to her professional voice, her soft Southern accent instantly vanishing. "At the tone," she said, "the temperature is minus 12 degrees." She laughed and her accent returned. "I liked that."

No one had told her that AT&T was about to stop time.

"I think that's very sad," Daniels said. "I was told at one time that my voice would last until well into the 21st century. Now it looks like I'm about to be laid to rest."

When that day comes, Daniels said, she knows what her epitaph will be: "She knew the time."

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5 Responses:

  1. phreddiva says:

    I used it less than a week ago.

    • gryazi says:

      I was having a shitty night a few years ago and ended up at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere in Verizon country with no change, no watch, and the clock in the car completely off.

      Called 0 for the time, and the operator demanded I pay for 411. Click.

  2. fo0bar says:

    If only this world had the technology to play dynamic recordings based on time using telephony over computers.

  3. ciphergoth says:

    I trust that having chosen it as the title of this post you then listened to it, by the way?

  4. sircyan says:

    Interestingly, Jane Barbe, who recorded the voice for WWVH, the shortwave sister radio station to WWV that broadcasts time signals from an atomic clock, passed away in 2003. Her voice still chimes on WWVH every minute at the top of the minute, and in numerous automated phone messages around the world. WWVH will probably continue to broadcast in its current format for many years to come.

    You can hear what the station sounds like (using a shortwave radio not withstanding) by calling (808) 335-4363.

    The following message, in her voice, is broadcast at the 29th and 59th minute of every hour:

    "National Institute of Standards and Technology Time. This is radio station WWVH, Kauai, Hawaii, broadcasting on internationally allocated standard carrier frequencies of 2.5, 5, 10 and 15 megahertz, providing time of day, standard time interval, and other related information. Inquiries regarding these transmissions may be directed to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Radio Station WWVH, Post office box 417, Kekaha, Hawaii 96752. Aloha."