The “talking clock” ceased a century after its inception

L “talk time”, the first automated system in the world to give France legal time via a phone call, will be discontinued on July 1, 2022, due to the lack of enough users in the digital age … nostalgia.In fourth place, it would be… this time! When I was young, my mother would constantly tell me to use the talking watch, and that was all she had to do.‘ laughed, recalls AFP Claire Salpetrier, 51, an English teacher in Magnanville.I was surprised it still existed, it was something we knew when we were kids, when we didn’t have cell phones yet. It was very useful when we had to get on the train or planeAntonio Garcia, 51, a clinic director in Moulins, says Evelyn.I remember the whistling sound. “

Like a movie camera

Born in 1933,talk time‘, is the invention of Ernest Ecclangon, astronomer and director of the Paris Observatory. This century-old service is accessible across the territory via 3699, and was provided by Orange, heiress to the historic telecom operator. In 1991, a dedicated infrastructure was created It was built, in partnership with the observatory, to ensure the publication of legal time in France with a temporal resolution of about 10 milliseconds.

It was really something for the kids, something for a teenager, just what we needed when we had a power outage and had to put everything back in time. I feel sad and nostalgic when I learn of his station; It’s like a movie camera versus a digital camera“, testifies to Charlotte Vanbein, 43, who is responsible for relations with the media.”Kids today are taking advantage of all technologies and don’t know everything we know. Good things are lost‘, she regrets.

A few tens of thousands of calls in 2021 alone

The cessation of this historical service is the result of “scheduled end of life“Equipment essential to its operation, especially”Steady and significant decreaseFrom the number of calls to 3699, a bill of 1.50 euros plus the price of the call for the last hours of its existence.We received several million calls a year in 1991. There was a benefit that was very strong at the time, but little by little, we saw an erosion‘No longer up to it’A few tens of thousands of calls in 2021‘,” explains Catherine Britton, director of marketing at Orange.

Smartphones, computers, tablets, connected things… With the digitization of devices and the multiplication of sources that can give time, “The need for Speaking Clock has diminished over time“, she adds. The fourth generation of models, the latest version of”talk time“Taking its source on”Coordinated universal timeFrom the Paris Observatory, constructed from a set of atomic clocks from the SYRTE laboratory, it is protected in a secure, permanently air-conditioned room.

It does something to me“, humbly admits Michel Abgarel, CNRS research engineer at LNE-SYRTE, who has been responsible for monitoring the famous mechanism at the Paris Observatory for several years.”However, it is a service that has been in operation for nearly 90 years, and is part of the national heritage. It bothers me that it stops when I’m the one taking care of himHe adds with a laugh, before reassuring the exact time nerds: The general public can always find the official time … on the website of the Paris Observatory.

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