Telephone Answering Machine

Description (Brief)
While telephone answering machines date to the early twentieth century, commercial units did not begin to enter the U.S. market until the 1960s. AT&T executives feared that users might cut back on telephone use if recording devices were widely adopted. The company sought to block the introduction of answering machines even while their engineers made significant technical advances in magnetic recording technology.
This model 100 “Record-O-Phone” by Robosonics was one of the early, commercially available answering machines. Introduced in 1963, these machines cost several hundred dollars each and were aimed at business customers. The unit used a reel of plastic recording tape to record incoming messages. The unit’s cradle-arms were placed beneath the handset of a desk telephone and lifted the handset off the base in response to an incoming call. Since the unit is not electrically connected to the telephone, the user avoided sanction by the telephone company.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
relephone answering machine
recording device
answering machine
date made
ca 1964
maker
Robosonics Inc.
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 5 in x 14 in x 10 in; 12.7 cm x 35.50006 cm x 25.4 cm
ID Number
2000.0101.01
catalog number
2000.0101.01
accession number
2000.0101
subject
Communications
Magnetic Recording
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Magnetic Recording
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from PhoneTel Communications Inc., thru Daniel Henderson
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.