Lifestyle

Telstra is shutting down George the Talking clock – and I’m outraged

1194 – it’s the simple number we’ve all been able to dial for years to find out what the time is.

But tonight, at Midnight – that ends. As of October 1 2019 Theres no more Talking Clock.

George is the name given to the speaking clock, a device that first arrived in Australia on the SS Arcadia in 1954 – it was so big it arrived in some 37 crates. Over the years the technology evolved into a small rack mounted computer, nonetheless the system worked the same way.

Dial 1194, George Answers, and tells you the time on the third stroke. Three pips sound and that’s the time.

Honestly, I reckon I call it 10-15 times a year. When I’m publishing stories that are time sensitive (say an article embargoed for a certain time) I don’t want to be wrong by a second.

Then there’s Daylight Saving Time. I mean come on, hundreds of thousands of us will call that this weekend as Clocks go forward, or back, or whatever it is. You get up at 8am and think, wait, is it 7am, 8am, or 9am?

Call 1194 and discover your phone is right, the clock is wrong and the microwave is still blinking from the last power outage because who looks at those anymore or knows how to set the time.

A Telstra Spokesperson tells EFTM “As we upgrade our network technology and transform ourselves into a simpler business, we will no longer support some services that some customers have grown up with. This includes the 1194 talking clock.

“When these service were launched in 1953, they were a unique way for people to get important information. 66 years later, our mobiles, laptops, fitness trackers, cars, smart homes and other devices can also tell you the time.”

“We know some people still find 1194 useful, which is why we started giving notice to some customers more than 12 months’ ago about the change, and then extended the closing-down date from 30 June to 30 September 2019.”

The thing is, I know we’ve moved on. I know we have smart watches that flick forward and back, they even adjust based on where you are in the world.

Same goes for our smartphones.

But come on, even me – your friendly local nerd – even I know that we can’t trust technology!

Just ask the Australian Bureau of Statistics (Census anyone?) or Optus (Floptus World Cup anyone?).

Now for the record, I called 1194 tonight and established that indeed my smartphone clock is pretty spot on. But will it always be? What is my method for cross referencing this data? That reference was always George.

Tonight, George’s third stroke at Midnight will be his last.

Oh, and can someone give me a a new number to call to get a one sided conversation happening? 1194 is also the number saved in my phone against the name “Santa Claus”. I call Santa a LOT around Christmas to get the kids worried. Who am I going to call now? I don’t actually HAVE Santa’s number you know!

Telstra gave twelve months notice. Then they extended it. But, I’m still outraged. We can setup go-fund-me campaigns for the dumbest things, perhaps we’ve let something very special just disappear from our lives.

Plus, how much could it actually cost to keep the thing running? This isn’t about technology and networks – it’s a computer at the end of a phone line. Andy Penn, CEO of Telstra and Dennis Benjamin CEO, Informatel Group (the company that now runs George the Speaking Clock) – you have let your country down.

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Telstra is shutting down George the Talking clock – and I’m outraged
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