At the Tone, the Time will be Announced by Electronic Tele-Communications

It's probably one of the best known yet unknown voices in California.

"At the tone, the time will be..."

Anyone who has ever dialed "popcorn" to find out the time has heard it.

It turns out her name is Jane Barbe and she's a voice actress under contract to Electronic Tele-Communications (ETC), a company that has its Western U.S. sales and technical support group here in Hacienda.

"She's a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, and she's probably been under contract with us for 30 years," explains Robert Batman, director of sales.

"Popcorn" is not their only hit, however. ETC also brings you messages such as "the number you have called is no longer in service," "the temperature is," and "the customer you have dialed is out of the service area" for mobile phone users.

"Our customers include all the telephone companies, all the wireless companies, and all the long distance companies," adds Batman. "We manufacture voice announcement equipment and network announcement equipment.

"It's a niche market - you would never know that we were here except for the fact that you hear those voices from time to time when you make a phone call or long distance call," he says.

The company traces its roots to 1949, when its founder George Danner invented the Electronic Secretary telephone answering and recording device.

"The Electronic Secretary was the first telephone recording machine on the market - they had the patent on it," says Batman. "The machines that you have in your home today are the descendants of that original product."

The company grew to 60 employees and merged with General Telephone System in 1957 and was further integrated with the company's GTE Automatic Electric division. Danner left GTE in 1980 and founded ETC, with their digital voice announcers for the central offices of phone companies as his first product.

ETC has since acquired two other firms, the Audichron Company and Automation Electronics Corporation, to expand their product line.

"We provide a conversion from voice to text for the hearing impaired," says Batman. "If you are hearing impaired and have a teletypewriter device for the deaf (TDD), our messages will be converted to text so they know the number has been changed."

ETC also makes a time and temperature device which is used by city governments, especially parks and recreation departments, as well as phone companies.

"Our announcement machine can be used by a school district: 'The lunch menu for next week is as follows,'" he adds.

The company also provides the equipment for dial-up weather information, as well as the forecasts themselves.

"We have three meteorologists on staff in Atlanta that provide weather forecasting not only for our own machines but also on the net for various companies," says Batman.

The company's sales force travels far and wide. Tony Radovan, a salesman based in Pleasanton, was recently named the company's "Employee of the Year," and his 12-state territory includes Alaska, Washington, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

They don't stop with the U.S., however.

"We sell internationally. We recently brought actors from China to our recording studio to do dialogues and have actors from Poland over to do a Polish dialog," says Batman. "We have 25 languages on the shelf for phone companies around the world."

ETC even offers dialects, for phone companies that want a local touch.

"If somebody in the Northeast for example wanted a Vermont inflection, we'll do those, too."

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