Time balls were initially for nautical useSource: Royal Museum Greenwich
People loved watching time ballsSource: Museum Of Applied Arts and Sciences
America's first time ball wasn't very accurateSource: Wikimedia
They were constantly malfunctioning. They were dropping at the wrong time; a notice would be put in the newspaper to indicate the ball was erroneously dropped before or even after noon. They were covered in canvas, so on a windy day or a day when it was raining, the [method] didn't work.
Time balls were phased out in the early 20th century
The great shout that went up drowned out the whistles for a minute. The vocal power of the welcomers rose above even the horns and the cow bells and the rattles. Above all else came the wild human hullabaloo of noise.