Talk:Answering machine

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Other than the 70's song mentioned near the end of the article, there is no indication of when answering machines and their respective storage mediums started appearing. I don't have this information, but it would certainly be a start to cleaning up this article.

In particular, when did cassette-based answering machines -- whether single or dual -- appear? When did they become mass-marketed or widely available? What did they cost at first appearance, and how quickly did their cost structure make them broadly affordable? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:19, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Answering machines in fiction[edit]

Often when the police are seen investigating a murder they find an important clue on the answering machine.

No verifying links. How can we say this? NPOV, people. 19:08, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

In German detective TV shows, the police often check who the victim last called. They don't check answering machines that often, though. JIP | Talk 17:25, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

What about Cheaper by the Dozen, when they all try to record an answering message, but are cut off before all of them can finish? (Near the end, however, they do finish it.) --Yeah, it's me again. 22:31, 18 October 2006 (UTC)


According to history as I recall, Benjamin Thornton was the first one to invent the answering Machine in 1935, not Willy Muller. There seems to be no info on Wikipedia about Benjamin Thornton yet elsewhere online and in the libraries. Surprisingly, Benjamin Thornton was African-American, and like most African-Americans, they are discredited for their contributions to society. You look up a about Thomas Edison, you'll find a lot of info about that Caucasian male and his inventions. This article is misinforming and needs revision.

Source: —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dew3 (talkcontribs) 23:20, 25 February 2008 (UTC)

I removed this citation because it didn't support the statement in the article which was specifically the invention (and patent) of a digital answer machine.Calltech (talk) 22:28, 27 February 2008 (UTC)
Willy Mueller in Switzerland invented the device *independently* from Benjamin Thornton, but at about the same time. You have to realise that they probably just filed patents at their local offices, and lines of knowledge and communication between countries over an entire ocean in the 1930s are not what they are now. (talk) 13:42, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

(What a pitiful article!)
Standard-sized cassettes were used, in about the 1970's -- one for incoming and one for outgoing messages. (The outgoing msg cassette was sometimes a special "continuous loop" version, that did not have to be re-wound; a very short loop, about one minute.) The cassettes would eventually wear out and have to be replaced, but the contents survived power failures well, and the cassette could be swapped out to save a message long-term. Cheaper models were developed that used just one cassette: the outgoing msg was stored at the beginning of the tape, and the incoming msgs were tacked on at the end. This system adds a delay between the time the outgoing msg is played and the time an incoming msg can be recorded -- the delay grows longer and longer as more incoming msgs are added. Smaller versions used mini-cassettes or micro-cassettes instead of standard sized.

There were some hybrid systems that used solid state memory for the outgoing msg, but magnetic tape for recording the incoming msgs. Before flash memory was common, this volatile memory would require battery backup, or be lost in a power outage.

By 2000 solid state memory was so common that magnetic tape was being phased out. But most such systems offered only a limited amount of built-in memory, typically about 20 minutes of total recording time, less than typical cassette systems. The use of simple home or office stand-alone answering equipment became less popular, as centralized voice-mail functions were often purchased from telephone service providers, and business PBXs became more computerized and included this function.

A proper modern stand-alone answering machine would include a moderate amount of internal flash memory for incoming and outgoing msgs, and offer USB and/or memory card slots for augmenting the incoming msg memory. It would use standard FAT formatting, so that the modular external memory msgs could be easily transferred and copied by computer. But does such equipment actually exist? They have become so cheap and common that there seems little competition to offer better features.- 18:45, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Symbian based smartphones can have answering machine functionality. (and also ability to record ordinary calls)(at least here most software generates beeps every 5 sec). These devices usually have memory card slot. -Yyy 15:04, 27 April 2007 (UTC)