On December 2, 1940, the Time of Day telephone service was started at the bank to allow area residents to call in and receive the time. In its first year, nearly 2,367,000 calls were received; an average of 6,000 calls daily.
The Time of Day service was powered by the Audichron, a handmade mechanism situated in the lobby of the company building that combined telephone, radio and talking picture principles. Telephone users merely had to dial 4-4181. No request for “correct time” was necessary. 9,002 calls for time were recorded by the device in its first day of operation.
In December 1961, the Audichron Time of Day service was expanded to provide both time and temperature. The expansion of this service was in line with the addition in January 1962 of new time and temperature signs at five First Bank branch locations including Twyckenham, Lincolnway, River Park, 911 S. Michigan Street and Western Avenue. Through December 31, 1961, the Time of Day service had answered 64,993,872 calls, or an average of over 8,500 calls per day.
On March 31, 1963, First Bank announced a new Time and Temperature phone number. An advertisement from the period read, “This past winter was just too much for CE 4-4181. So after 23 years and 73 million calls, the phone company has given us a new number – one that will permit the addition of extra trunk lines to handle the tremendous number of calls for correct First Bank Time and Temperature.”
In 1966, the bank was honored for the 88 million Time and Temperature messages that have been provided by its Audichron service during the past 25 years.
Two years later, the community was introduced to Jane Barbe (pronounced Bar-bee), the voice of the Time and Temperature line. The Atlanta, Georgia resident explained that what the caller hears when he dials 234-7121 isn’t a single recorded message by an attractive voice, as he assumes. It is four brief recorded segments brought together so smoothly that they sound like one continuous message. All these segments have been recorded months in advance by Mrs. Barbe in a studio in Atlanta and sent to South Bend. When the caller dials the number, an intricate machine called the Audichron answers. Twice a year, Mrs. Barbe would make a complete new set of hour, minute and temperature recordings. “The human voice changes, and we want to avoid a contrast between the commercial message and the time and temperature recordings,” she explained.
Undoubtedly, the addition of temperature proved to be a giant success. First Bank’s Time and Temperature telephone reporting service had continued to grow in popularity and in the number of calls made by area residents. In fact, total calls made since the system was first installed reached well over the 100 million mark in 1968.
Regarded as an institution in the South Bend area, the Time and Temperature service is still popular today. Decades later, even with advances in technology, area residents continue to rely on the service, dialing the popular number more than 2.7 million times a year.
“1st Source Bank time….”