Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

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    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 am

    Please see my website for details! I sub for the City of San Jose and the YMCA so check my website for dates and times!

    I am also available for private Nia / yoga / Personal Training!

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POPCORN, A Thing Of My Past

Posted by terrepruitt on June 21, 2014

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia at the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Zumba, PiYo, Gentle YogaMy niece was here visiting for a week, but because she is family she doesn’t really get treated like a guest.  It is my stance that she is here visiting ME (and my husband) so I drag her along to all of my Nia classes, my yoga classes, and all the things I have to do.  She is completely capable of staying at the house and relaxing as if on vacation, but — nope, she is here for a visit so I make her visit.  She got out of going with me one day when her uncle took her to the beach.  THEY were visiting.   At the end of the week, my dad came to pick her up and we were waiting for my husband to get off of work so we could all go to dinner.  My dad looked at one of my clocks, then at his watch and he said, “I always look at MY watch.”  Then he said that my clock was fast.  We started talking about how we can’t call POPCORN any longer.  Then I realized that my niece probably doesn’t even know what that is!  So I asked her, she had no idea.  Awwwww.  Sometimes it is sad when things I had all my life are unknown.  The conversation led to, “When did it stop?”  So, of course, I looked it up.  And — guess what?  I found all kinds of information I didn’t know.  This post is about POPCORN or the Speaking Clock!

When I was young if you wanted to know the EXACT time you called 767-1234, or 767-2676, which spells POPCORN.  Now, I grew up in a house with a lot of clocks (probably why I have a lot in our house), but they were set at least 10 minutes ahead of time — I am sure my parents had a reason for that, but I could NOT tell you WHY (but my dad still does it).  Not only were they not set to the correct time, most of them didn’t match.  So, I basically never really could figure out what time it was, so I called POPCORN a lot.

It was also interesting because after a power outage the line would be busy!  Apparently a lot of people were trying to find out what time it was!  My internet search revealed that AT&T stopped the Speaking Clock in California in 2007.  I remember when it stopped.  I remembered it was a hot topic in a lot of my social media feeds, but I didn’t remember the year.  All of the information in this post is from Wiki.  Wiki says that in the United States it was not known by the name “Speaking Clock.”  That is nice for me to know because I don’t remember it ever being called that.  The information states it was typically called “Time of Day.”  I just remember we called it POPCORN.  Although the 767 prefix was just for Northern California.  (Wiki calls the prefix “exchanges”)

Quick Wiki facts:

–France had the first speaking clock service, it started on February 14, 1933
–Not all speaking clocks are a free call, sometimes services charges apply
–Some counties have speaking clocks in more than one language
–Some services supply local time and local weather

The following countries have speaking clocks:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados,Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France Germany, Greece, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand,  Ukraine, United Kingdom,

Norway had the service until 2007.  Also, it could be that some of these services have since been ceased.

Ha.  Cool.  I never really thought about other countries having a speaking clock.  Seems like a lot of the States in America have stopped the service due to the use of cell phones.  Not many people using their cell phones to CALL to see what time it is.  And cell phone clocks don’t need to be set.  I used to carry the phone (not a cell phone) from clock to clock and set the time to the EXACT time according to POPCORN.  I just was kind a little surprised the other day by the thought that my niece didn’t even know what it was.  I am so happy that Deb Wong thought to video tape it and put it on Youtube for those of use that want to hear that familiar voice to see it!  THANKS Deb!

So . . . do any of you local remember this?  Miss it?  How about you all living not local (to me)?  Do you have a Specking Clock?  Do you use it?


4 Responses to “POPCORN, A Thing Of My Past”

  1. niachick said

    I have never heard of a “speaking clock”. Many years ago we had a number I could call to verify the time. I’ve never heard of POPCORN either. Wow. You always amaze me!


    • So you had a speaking clock you just didn’t call it that. I have never heard anyone call it that either, we called it POPCORN because those numbers COULD be used to call it, but ANY numbers after the prefix 767 would get you the time in the 408 area code. Back when EVERY PERSON didn’t have a phone number. 🙂

      Information amazes me. It is fun to learn things.


  2. Sonja T. said

    Hey Terre,
    I grew up in Pasadena. We always called the “555 ‘any four numbers you want'” ! No area code was ever needed, no matter what state you were in. I think we tried it in in Indiana too. It was always “At the tone the time wil be ,6 0 1 am….BEEP” That never had a name as far as I knew. Funny that your spelled popcorn, clever and super fun to remember.

    There was one other funny thing we found out about as elementary kids. If you dialed 61056. An incomplete number. What you got was an odd, half way dead line… But there were other people on a party line talking on that line. It was the oddest past time for my brother and I. You could call and talk to other kids who dialed up that line. I havent tried it for years, I almost want to try it when I’m on a land line at my folks house. I think we, as kids were pretty bored. We also had a CB radio and talked to other kids with “handles” and we had our made up nicknames. Steve’s high powered CB radio actually reached far, when it was late at night. We reached truckers in other states driving. We found local kids too. My nickname handle was “LockJaw” A play on words for someone who was nervous speaking on a CB I guess. Anonymity rules when you are a kid.

    Thanks for the fun post, and it took me back to a funny period in time.


    • We had what we called “information” which was 555-1212, but time was 767. If you used the same number to call for the time wherever you were, how did they know what time it was where you were? Wiki is saying that Northern California and Southern California had different prefixes as well as different states. Are you sure you aren’t thinking of “information” and not the time? 🙂

      My Grandmother didn’t have a telephone for a long time because of “party lines”. Why pay if the line was not private. So even though you would CALL a phone number it was still a party line. Ha, my dad and I talked about that too.

      Thanks for sharing your walk down memory lane.


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