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From the Archives, 1990: Telecom’s Talking Clock upgrades for the future

According to the engineer who developed the technology to record the time announcements, Mr Richard Black, once Mr Peach recorded 30 key phrases, the computer took over and synthesised the words into phrases, adding the appropriate pauses and tonal rhythms, along with the hours, minutes and seconds of an entire day so that it all comes out sounding like natural speech.

The old Telecom speaking clock, on which Mr Gow’s time calls were recorded, once occupied an entire room at the City West Exchange in Londsdale Street. It has been superseded by a fully computerised clock, the size of a small refrigerator.

Before the era of recorded messages, telephonists were employed to answer the public’s need to know the time of day. They worked in hour-long shifts, with their eyes focused on a wall clock.

High-tech: Gordon Gow, the voice of 'George' the talking clock when it was mechanised in 1953.

High-tech: Gordon Gow, the voice of ‘George’ the talking clock when it was mechanised in 1953. Credit:Telstra

The 1194 Dial-It Time Service is one of Telecom’s most popular resources, having taken 1.4 billion calls since it began in 1954. Last year, it received 32 million calls, as well as six million wake-up and reminder calls.

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