Tonight, Monday the 30th of October, will be the very last evening one can dial ‘1194’ or ‘1196’ from any Australian mobile or landline phone to receive the current time read continuously, or a spoken weather forecast for their nearest major capital city, respectively. Dial either of these numbers, and you would’ve heard an old-timely British male broadcaster voice that easily sounded like it could’ve been recorded in the 1950s or 60s. You can see below a video of both numbers in action on their last day of operation, recorded by ThebusofdoomFSX on YouTube.
In addition to this, I also produced my own recording of 1196’s last day here in Melbourne. My recording is of a much more poor quality than the one I just linked, so you’ve been warned;
In a way, it is quite sad to see these services go. Of course, they are entirely obsolete in this day and age – and whilst I was born long after the time in which they would’ve been required – they were nonetheless a reminder on how such information used to be accessed and distributed, and how scarce information used to be. I’ll comment that the voice provided a much more human aspect, and being made available over the telephone system meant it could be delivered into every home for no real added cost.
The services always felt quite eerie to me – the decades old voice combined with the idea of using such a system, in 2019, would actually unsettle me ever so slightly. I would always imagine what it would’ve been like; imagine it’s a stormy evening in the 70s or 80s, rain bucketing down on a tin roof, and you’re armed with nothing but a landline telephone to plan the next day’s events. Definitely would’ve been a much more simpler time.