The frustration of finding a suitable time to hold a meeting when the participants are evenly spaced around the globe

Raymond Chen

One of my friends worked on USB way back in the early days. As you would expect, things were rather unreliable back then, seeing as the entire platform was getting off the ground, and the specifications were still being written. I remember one email he sent me that said, simply, “Just letting you know, I had to reboot my mouse.”

Anyway, the committee members fell into three geographic areas: East Asia, Western United States, and Western Europe. If you check a globe, you’ll see that these three geographic areas are evenly spaced, almost exactly eight hours apart from each other.

The committee decided that their regular telephone conference calls¹ would be conducted at 8am local time for one geographic area, 4pm local time for the second, and midnight for the third. And to keep things fair, the meeting times would rotate, so that each group had the undesirable midnight meeting only one third of time.

It struck me as an odd quirk of fate that the major technology centers of the mid-1990’s were roughly equally spaced around the globe in terms of time zones.

¹ Neither VoIP nor video conferencing had yet been established, so these meetings were conducted via telephone.