Iconic Aussie talking clock returns - it's George but not as we know him...

A bit over a fortnight ago, Australia bid farewell to one of the longest surviving telephone services in the form of the talking clock service, which was last reachable by dialing 1194. The service, colloquially referred to as "George", enabled people to phone up and find out the current time but, in recent years, its usefulness had declined given the popularity of electronic devices that can automatically obtain the time from network time servers.

During its 66-year lifespan, the service has been voiced by two people, with theatre critic Gordon Gow having been the original voice starting in 1953 followed by ABC broadcaster Richard Peach when the legacy mechanical system was phased out in favour of a digital replacement in 1990. This platform endured until it was switched off just minutes before its official termination time of midnight on October 1, 2019 "due to impending 'incompatibilities' with upcoming network upgrades".

Now, George is back, according to the personal website of Ryan Munro, a developer from Melbourne, Australia. Munro, having heard the news of George's impending demise, decided to help preserve a piece of Australian history by recording all of the words spoken by the clock to recreate it in JavaScript. Having to deal with disconnections after one or two minutes, he called a total of 66 times to capture all of the requisite audio to bring back George in an online incarnation at 1194online.com.

While this may evoke nostalgia for some, Munro notes that this JavaScript version "uses your device's time, and so shouldn't be relied on for being an accurate time of day". However, if you're interested in hosting your own version of George, or tinkering with the source, you can grab a copy from the GitHub repo here.


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