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Anyone Else Remember Calling WE6-1212 and TI4-1212?

RF Cafe University"Factoids," "Kirt's Cogitations," and "Tech Topics Smorgasbord" are all manifestations of my ranting on various subjects relevant (usually) to the overall RF Cafe theme. All may be accessed on these pages:

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Anyone Remember Calling WE6-1212 and TI4-1212? - RF CafeLong before there was a World Wide Web for getting the latest weather report and the local time for setting your clocks, there were phone numbers set up with recordings of the sought after information. As a kid in the 1960s and 1970s, I called the weather forecast number, WE6-1212 ("WE" for weather†), multiple times daily during the winter in hopes of hearing a forecast for snow, and during the summer in hopes of favorable conditions for flying model airplanes and launching Estes rockets. An obsession with time and watches and clocks had me calling the time phone number, TI4-1212 ("TI" for time†), so often that my father used to refer to the lady on the recording that updated the time every 10 seconds as my girlfriend.

Those two phone numbers, even though it has been many decades since I've called them, will be forever emblazoned on my mind. I lived just south of Annapolis, Maryland, and it never occurred to me that the phone numbers might be something else for people in other parts of the country. It turns out that the same two numbers were reserved in many cities for the same purpose; that way, you never needed to dial an area code to get the information.

A search for information on WE6-1212 and TI4-1212 turned up a story from The Baltimore Sun reporting that both the weather and time numbers were being discontinued as of June 1, 2011. The Verizon representative interviewed stated, reasonably, that there was no good reason to continue the service. Of course everything was part of Bell Telephone when I availed myself of the service. Alas, the services have gone the way of the buggy whip and the hand crank starter for automobiles. Can I really be getting so old?

Still, for some inexplicable reason, like tonight, the two phone numbers come to mind. Does anyone else out there remember this?

† This holds over from the early days when city names or parts of them were used as the prefix for a phone number, like COlumbia-1-234, which was referred to as the 2L5N (2 letters and 5 numbers) system.

While watching an old episode of the Dick Van Dyke television show the other night, Rob Petrie's home phone number, New Rochelle-6-9970 (also here), was mentioned. You can watch it - at least until the copyright owner demands removal - on YouTube (and below). The link I use starts at the point where the prank phone call begins, but the entire show is available. When researching the 2L5N format (see here 1 and here 2) online for this article, I discovered everyone refers to the Ricardos' phone number of Murray-Hill 5-9975 (MH5-9975), from I Love Lucy. Now, there is a second example.

Update 6/20/2016: This note was received from Steve G.:

In Kanas City dialing ANY three numbers followed by 1212 would get you the time and temperature, precede by a short commercial usually for a bank. The service was free. I moved to the Chicago area in 1997 and called the time and temp number many times and then got a huge phone bill. They were charging me about 50 cents for each call. I called the phone company and explained that I was new to the area and that it had always been free before. The nice operator took mercy on me and erased the bill. --- Steve G.

The voice of Jane Barbe when dialing TI4-1212 for the local time


 

 

Posted July 20, 2022
(updated from original post on 5/16/2016)

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