Time and Telephones (and math) go together.
Back in the day ("Once upon a time"), we used to pay for every moment of every phone call. Not like today, with these so-called unlimited calling plans, though I caution you to read the fine print if you have one...
Some helpful watches were even marked at 3 minute intervals. See this counter at 3 o'clock? It has bigger lines at 3, 6 and 9 minutes, so you would know when to get off the phone.
Of course, not everyone had a fancy timer watch. Some folks bought tabletop timers. Here's a Smiths timer made of Bakelite, sold to budget-minded callers in the UK. You put it on the desk or table and switched it on before your call. The timer has scales for the 12, 20, 30-second and one-minute rates.
It didn't tell you when each rate was in effect, you had to remember that yourself. I recall that in California, we had cheap rates until 8 am, then day rates until 6, evening rates until 9, then cheap rates again all night long. Since we lived on the West Coast, we could only call relatives back east in the morning. Otherwise they were sleeping.
In researching today's story I found a watch and clock site that listed an extraordinarily cool device called a Tel-O-Time!
It fit on top of the rotary dial telephone, and was wound up whenever you dialed. It conveniently provided - in the center of your phone dial - the time, the date and a red 12-minute timer to keep track of your phone call.
I think this is a pretty neat device. It clips on the phone, winds up with no conscious effort, and helps you save money on calls. One small problem - it became obsolete with Touch-Tone dialing. Oops. A bit like payphones are today with all the mobile phones we have.
Next I ran across the TimeTimer. This count-down timer is built with a bright red disc that gradually shrinks in size as the time elapses. This way you can see the interval decreasing without having to do any calculations.
It's marketed to teachers of autistic kids, not to phone callers. But I liked the look. It would be great for long conference calls.
Do you wonder how it works?
Here it's going from 40 to 35 minutes.
Of course today the phones usually display the time on a digital display. Mine shows a clock and calendar until I start to talk, then it displays the elapsed time of the call.
What led me to do a blog on this subject? Well, I wasn't really thinking in 3 minute intervals, I was actually thinking about some news I heard yesterday. It's about time. About time for what? you ask.
Time for my father-in-law to get with the Twenty-first century. He has finally purchased a new telephone, to replace his DIAL telephone. Good thing I didn't get him a Tel-O-Time for Christmas!
Now maybe he will start calling whenever he wants to, and to stop trying to squeeze all the conversation in before his 3 minutes are up!