The Greenwich Time Signal (GTS), popularly known as the pips, is a series of six short tones broadcast at one second intervals by many BBC Radio stations.
The proposal for a time signal came from one Frank Hope-Jones in a radio talk in April 1923. It was agreed to broadcasting the Greenwich Standard Time with a chronometer at the Royal Observatory tripping a switch at five seconds to the hour to create those iconic pips – using a 1kHz oscillator. The time signal was first broadcast at 9.30 p.m. on 5 February 1924.
There are six pips (short beeps) in total, which occur on the 5 seconds leading up to the hour and on the hour itself. Each pip is a 1 kHz tone (about halfway between musical B5 and C6), the first five of which last a tenth of a second each while the final pip lasts half a second. The actual moment when the hour changes – the “on-time marker” – is at the very beginning of the last pip.
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