Telephone Answering Machine

Telephone Answering Machine

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Description (Brief)
This Code-A-Phone 700 answering machine was produced in 1966, several years before a series of legal battles forced Bell Telephone to allow connection of non-Bell equipment to their telephone lines. Ultimately the Code-A-Phone was produced by Ford Industries with parts made by Western Electric, the Bell System’s manufacturing unit. Having decided that they could not prevent the use of answering machines, Bell used Code-A-Phone in an attempt to control the market.
Currently not on view
Object Name
telephone answering machine
recording device
answering machine
date made
Western Electric
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
steel (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
overall: 12.7 cm x 35.5 cm x 39.4 cm; 5 in x 13 31/32 in x 15 1/2 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
from Richard S. Otto
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Magnetic Recording
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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The name Ken Catto was often heard in my household when I was a kid growing up in Portland, Oregon. My dad, Quay Wassam, was on the accounting side of early Code-A-Phone. He left or was pushed out after the Kenneth Ford acquisition. In the seventies my father rejoined some of the former early Code-A-Phone entrepreneurs at Data-Time, an electronic digital clock and sports timing devices manufacturer.
This was my dad’s invention, Kenneth A Catto. He sold it to Kenneth Ford to produce it.
John G. Fontaine invented the Code-a-Phone in 1956. The design and patients have been posted on-line by the Patent Office. He won a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the easily sixties from a company that tried to steal it from him. He then sold the Code-a-Phone to the Phillips Corporation. The technology was used on one of the first telecommunications satellites; Telstar, which was launched by NASA in 1962.
I worked for Ford Industries in 1968 and Code-A-Phone was the brand. Claude Faust recently died and knew Ken Catto
I worked for New Jersey Bell in the 1960's , I remember working on this equipment. they were heavy and cumbersome. Not very commnon, mainly used by professionals, doctors,lawyers ,etc.

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