Thursday, August 30, 2007

No Time of Day in LA

Practical reality (the dirty scoundrel!) continues to chip away at the dowdy world, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

It's the end of time, at least as far as AT&T is concerned.

The brief note in customers' bills hardly does justice to the momentousness of the decision. "Service withdrawal," it blandly declares. "Effective September 2007, Time of Day information service will be discontinued."

What that means is that people throughout Southern California will no longer be able to call 853-1212 to hear a woman's recorded voice state that "at the tone, Pacific Daylight Time will be . . ." with the recording automatically updating at 10-second intervals.

"Times change," said John Britton, an AT&T spokesman. "In today's world, there are just too many other ways to get this information. You can look at your cellphone or your computer. You no longer have to pick up the telephone."
No, you don't. But I think King Lear put it best: "O reason not the need!"

Reading about the Time of Day service led me to a wonderful page with MP3s of Jane Barbe, "The Telephone Lady," whose voice I still hear when I use my long-distance card (just 3¢ a minute!).
Time of day calling it quits at AT&T (Los Angeles Times, via Boing Boing)
Jane Barbe (Wikipedia)
The Jane Barbe Collection (Telephone World)

All "dowdy world" posts (via del.icio.us)

comments: 2

Stefan said...

Michael,

I thought you might enjoy remembering these lines from Dylan's "Talking World War III Blues:"

I was feelin' kinda lonesome and blue,
I needed somebody to talk to.
So I called up the operator of time
Just to hear a voice of some kind.
"When you hear the beep
It will be three o'clock,"
She said that for over an hour
And I hung it up.

Michael Leddy said...

I wonder: are we meant to think of a.m. or p.m.? Thanks, Stefan!