At the third stroke …


Today marks the 75th anniversary of the creation of the speaking clock, which began in 1936. The facility was originally called ‘Tim’ and one morning, when I was working for ‘The Engineer’ magazine selling advertising, one of my colleagues was late. As he arrived our brusque Scots manager yelled at him “Yer late, I’ve just phoned Tim” to which my tardy workmate replied “Why, is he late too?”. There was quite a bit of sniggering for a minute or two afterwards.

Later, in the 1980s, I knew Brian Cobby. He was the first male to voice the speaking clock. He’s a personable guy actually.

In 1984 British Telecom launched a search for a new voice from amongst its employees. Cobby, an assistant supervisor in a telephone exchange at Withdean, Brighton, was selected from 12 finalists.

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