The answering machine, answerphone or message machine, also known as telephone answering machine (or TAM) in the UK and some Commonwealth countries, ansaphone or ansafone (from a trade name), or telephone answering device (TAD), is used for answering telephones and recording callers' messages.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
A trade name, trading name, or business name is a pseudonym frequently used by companies to operate under a name different from their registered, legal name. The term for this type of alternative name is a "fictitious" business name. Registering the fictitious name with the relevant government body is often required.
Unlike voicemail, which can be a centralized or networked system that covers, and mostly extends, similar functions, an answering machine is set up in the user's premises alongside—or incorporated within—the user's land-line telephone. Unlike operator messaging the caller does not talk to a human.
A voicemail system is a computer-based system that allows users and subscribers to exchange personal voice messages; to select and deliver voice information; and to process transactions relating to individuals, organizations, products and services, using an ordinary telephone. The term is also used more broadly to denote any system of conveying a stored telecommunications voice messages, including using an answering machine. Most cell phone services offer voice-mail as a basic feature; many corporate PBXs include versatile internal voice-messaging services, and *98 vertical service code subscription is available to most individual and small business land line subscribers.
Operator Messaging is the term, similar to Text Messaging and Voice Messaging, applying to an answering service call center who focuses on one specific scripting style that has grown out of the alphanumeric pager history.
As landlines become less important, due to the shift to cell phone technology, and as unified communications matures, the installed base of TADs is shrinking.
A landline telephone is a phone that uses a metal wire or optical fiber telephone line for transmission as distinguished from a mobile cellular line, which uses radio waves for transmission. In 2003, the CIA World Factbook reported approximately 1.263 billion main telephone lines worldwide. China had more than any other country at 350 million and the United States was second with 268 million. The United Kingdom had 23.7 billion residential fixed home phones.
Unified communications (UC) is a business and marketing concept describing the integration of enterprise communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, voice, mobility features, audio, web & video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), desktop sharing, data sharing, call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging. UC is not necessarily a single product, but a set of products that provides a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types.
Installed base is a measure of the number of units of a product or service that are actually in use, especially software or an Internet or computing platform, as opposed to market share, which only reflects sales over a particular period. Although the install base number is often created using the number of units that have been sold within a particular period, it is not necessarily restricted to just systems, as it can also be products in general. For products which are in use on some machines for many years, the installed base count will be higher than sales over a given period. Some people see it as a more reliable indicator of a platform's usage rate.
Most 20th century answering machines used magnetic recording which Valdemar Poulsen invented in 1898.The creation of the first practical automatic answering device for telephones, however, is in dispute. Starting in 1930, Clarence Hickman worked for Bell Laboratories, where he developed methods for magnetic recording and worked on the recognition of speech patterns and electromechanical switching systems. In 1934, he developed a tape-based answering machine which phone company AT&T, as the owner of Bell Laboratories, kept under wraps for years for fear that an answering machine would result in fewer telephone calls. Many claim the answering machine was invented by William Muller in 1935, but it may already have been created in 1931 by William Schergens whose device used phonographic cylinders. Ludwig Blattner promoted a telephone answering machine in 1929 based on his Blattnerphone magnetic recording technology. In 1935 inventor Benjamin Thornton developed a machine to record voice messages from the caller. The device reportedly also was able to keep track of the time the recordings were made. Although many sources maintain that he invented it in 1935, Thornton had actually filed a patent in 1930 (Number 1831331) for this machine, which utilized a phonographic record as the recording medium.
Valdemar Poulsen was a Danish engineer who made significant contributions to early radio technology. He developed a magnetic wire recorder called the telegraphone in 1898 and the first continuous wave radio transmitter, the Poulsen arc transmitter, in 1903, which was used in some of the first broadcasting stations until the early 1920s.
AT&T Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered at Whitacre Tower in Downtown Dallas, Texas. It is the world's largest telecommunications company, the largest provider of mobile telephone services, and the largest provider of fixed telephone services in the United States through AT&T Communications. Since June 14, 2018, it is also the parent company of mass media conglomerate WarnerMedia, making it the world's largest media and entertainment company in terms of revenue. As of 2018, AT&T is ranked #9 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.
Ludwig Blattner was a German-born inventor, film producer, director and studio owner in the United Kingdom, and developer of one of the earliest sound recording devices.
A commercial answering machine, the Tel-Magnet, offered in the United States in 1949, played outgoing messages and recorded incoming messages on a magnetic wire. It was priced at $200 but was not a commercial success.
In 1949 the first commercially successful answering machine was the Electronic Secretary created by inventor Joseph Zimmerman and businessman George W. Danner, who founded Electronic Secretary Industries in Wisconsin. The Electronic Secretary used the then state-of-the-art technology of a 45 rpm record player for announcements and a wire recorder for message capture and playback. Electronic Secretary Industries was purchased in 1957 by General Telephone and Electronics. Another commercially successful answering machine was the Ansafone created by inventor Dr. Kazuo Hashimoto, who was employed by a company called Phonetel. This company began selling the first answering machines in the US in 1960.
Kazuo Hashimoto was a Japanese inventor who registered over 1,000 patents throughout the world, including patents for Caller-ID system and telephone answering machine. He patented his first telephone answering machine, the Ansa Fone, in Japan in 1954, followed by the United States in 1960. He patented Caller-ID in Japan in 1976, and received a United States patent in 1980. In 1983 he invented a digital telephone answering device.
Answering machines became more widely used after the restructuring of AT&T in 1984, which was when the machines became affordable and sales reached one million units per year in the US.The first post-breakup device went by the trade name of DuoPhone and was sold by Tandy (Radio Shack). This device and its successors were designed by Sava Jacobson, an electrical engineer with a private consulting business . While early answering machines used magnetic tape technology, most modern equipment uses solid state memory storage; some devices use a combination of both, with a solid-state circuit for the outgoing message and a cassette for the incoming messages. James P. Mitchell displayed a working prototype of a digital outgoing message with a taped incoming system at an Iowa State University VEISHEA engineering openhouse in April 1982. This system won a gold award from the Engineering department. In 1983, Kazuo Hashimoto received a patent for a digital answering machine architecture with US Patent 4,616,110. The first digital answering machine brought to the market was AT&T's Model 1337; an activity led by Trey Weaver. Mr. Hashimoto sued AT&T but quickly dropped the suit because the AT&T architecture was significantly different from his patent.
There are two possibilities for answering an incoming call: (1) waiting arbitrarily long for operator intervention, or (2) automatically answering after a specified number of rings in a certain state of the TAD (e.g. "toll saving" below). This is useful if the owner is screening calls and does not wish to speak with all callers.
In any case after going off-hook , the calling party should be informed about the call having been answered (in most cases this starts the charging), either by some remark of the operator, or by some greeting message of the TAD, or addressed to non-human callers (e.g. fax machines) by implementing an appropriate protocol over the landline. In some cases the terminal equipment answering a call just sends a slightly modified ringback tone to the caller, while processing the protocol.
Similarly, the called equipment can end a call by going on-hook deliberately, because of some specific signalling, or because of some time out.
In case of voice-only environments any accepted call can be directly handed over to a TAD, which may be preemptively superseded by a human-operated handset, taking control by simply going off-hook itself, forcing the TAD (back) on-hook. Voice signals may simply be captured to and replayed from analogue media (mostly tapes), but later TADs shifted to digital storage, with all of its convenience for compression and handling, for both the greeting and for the recorded messages.
Most modern answering machines have a system for greeting. The owner may record a message that will be played back to the caller, or an automatic message will be played if the owner does not record one. This holds especially for the TADs with digitally stored greeting messages or for earlier machines (before the rise of microcassettes) with a special endless loop tape, separate from a second cassette, dedicated to recording.
There have been answer-only devices with no recording capabilities, where the greeting message had to inform callers of a state of current unattainability, or e.g. about availability hours. In recording TADs the greeting usually contains an invitation to leave a message "after the beep".
Greeting messages are partly considered as an art form, expressing the creativity and attractiveness of the operator of the TAD via remarkable wording and sound staging.
On a dual-cassette answerphone, there is an outgoing cassette, which after the specified number of rings plays a pre-recorded message to the caller. Once the message is complete, the outgoing cassette stops and the incoming cassette starts recording the caller's message, and then stops when the caller hangs up.
Single-cassette answering machines contain the outgoing message at the beginning of the tape and incoming messages on the remaining space. They first play the announcement, then fast-forward to the next available space for recording, then record the caller's message. If there are many previous messages, fast-forwarding through them can cause a significant delay. This delay is taken care of by playing back a beep to the caller, when the TAD is ready to record. This beep is often referred to in the greeting message, requesting that the caller leave a message "after the beep".
TADs with digital storage for the recorded messages do not show this delay, of course.
A TAD may offer a remote control facility, whereby the answerphone owner can ring the home number and, by entering a code on the remote telephone's keypad, can listen to recorded messages, or delete them, even when away from home.
Many devices offer a "toll-saver" function for this purpose. Thereby the machine increases the number of rings after which it answers the call (typically by two, resulting in four rings), if no unread messages are currently stored, but answers after the set number of rings (usually two) if there are unread messages. This allows the owner to find out whether there are messages waiting; if there are none, the owner can hang up the phone on the, e.g., third ring without incurring a call charge.
Some machines also allow themselves to be remotely activated, if they have been switched off, by calling and letting the phone ring a certain large number of times (usually 10-15). Some service providers abandon calls already after a smaller number of rings, making remote activation impossible.
In the early days of TADs a special transmitter for DTMF tones (dual-tone multi-frequency signalling) was regionally required for remote control, since the formerly employed pulse dialling is not apt to convey appropriate signalling along an active connection, and the dual-tone multi-frequency signalling was implemented stepwise.
This refers to analogue sites, which support voice, fax and data transmission via landlines by adhering to specific protocols established by the ITU-T. Any incoming call is not identifiable with respect to these properties in advance of going "off hook" by the terminal equipment. So after going off hook the calls must be switched to appropriate devices and only the voice-type is immediately accessible to a human, but perhaps, nevertheless should be routed to a TAD (e.g. after the caller has identified itself, or has been identified by a recognized caller ID).
Starting with the integration of faxing devices into computers via Fax modems the automated answering of voice calls by a computer went live via specific software, like e.g. TalkWorks. These systems allowed for quite elaborate voice box systems, navigated via dual-tone multi-frequency signaling, allowing a computer on a (single) telephony line to sound like a professional telephony system with hierarchical fax and message boxes with an automatic call distributor, where a caller might deposit his messages, leave his faxes behind, might listen to specific messages, or start a fax-back service.
Besides these solutions, mostly requiring a constantly running computer, since a wake-on-ring function then (~1995) started to take too much time to boot up an operating system, a few so-called selfmodems were available from e.g. USRobotics or ELSA Technology: the Sportster MessagePlus, the 56K Message Modem External, and the MicroLink Office. These devices answered incoming calls by playing a welcome message while discriminating fax calls (CNG-tone at 1100 Hz) from voice calls, storing an incoming fax, or a voice massage, respectively. A computer was only necessary afterwards to retrieve the faxes, or for storing the voice messages. In case of a full storage the devices changed their welcome message to another, prerecorded message, played upon answering an incoming call, possibly explaining that a message cannot be taken at the present time.
A telephone, or phone, is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to conduct a conversation when they are too far apart to be heard directly. A telephone converts sound, typically and most efficiently the human voice, into electronic signals that are transmitted via cables and other communication channels to another telephone which reproduces the sound to the receiving user.
An automated call distribution system, commonly known as automatic call distributor (ACD), is a telephony device that answers and distributes incoming calls to a specific group of terminals or agents within an organization. ACDs often use a voice menu to direct callers based on the customer's selection, telephone number, selected incoming line to the system or time of day the call was processed. Computer telephony integration (CTI) and computer-supported telecommunications applications (CSTA) are intermediate software that can produce advanced ACD systems. Experts claim that "the invention of ACD technology made the concept of a call centre possible."
A ringtone or ring tone is the sound made by a telephone to indicate an incoming call or text message. Not literally a tone nor an actual (bell-like) ring any more, the term is most often used today to refer to customizable sounds used on mobile phones.
A telephone call is a connection over a telephone network between the called party and the calling party.
Call waiting is a telecommunication service offered by a telephone service provider to a subscriber by which the subscriber may suspend a telephone call already in progress to accept a second call. The subscriber may switch between calls, typically by using the hook flash signal.
Call forwarding, or call diversion, is a telephony feature of some telephone switching systems which redirects a telephone call to another destination, which may be, for example, a mobile or another telephone number where the desired called party is available. Call forwarding was invented by Ernest J. Bonanno. In North America, the forwarded line usually rings once to remind the customer using call forwarding that the call is being redirected. More consistently, the forwarded line indicates its condition by stutter dial tone. Call forwarding typically can redirect incoming calls to any other domestic telephone number, but the owner of the forwarded line must pay any toll charges for forwarded calls. Call forwarding is often enabled by dialing *72 followed by the telephone number to which calls should be forwarded. Once someone answers, call forwarding is in effect. If no one answers or the line is busy, the dialing sequence must be repeated to effect call forwarding. Call forwarding is disabled by dialing *73. This feature requires a subscription from the telephone company. Also available in some areas is Remote Access to call forwarding, which permit the control over call forwarding from telephones other than the subscriber's telephone. VOIP and cable telephone systems also often allow call forwarding to be set up and directed via their web portals.
In telephony, an automated attendant allows callers to be automatically transferred to an extension without the intervention of an operator/receptionist. Many AAs will also offer a simple menu system. An auto attendant may also allow a caller to reach a live operator by dialing a number, usually "0". Typically the auto attendant is included in a business's phone system such as a PBX, but some services allow businesses to use an AA without such a system. Modern AA services can route calls to mobile phones, VoIP virtual phones, other AAs/IVRs, or other locations using traditional land-line phones.
PhoneValet Message Center is a discontinued Mac-based multi-line computer-telephony software application from Parliant Corporation. The application provided computer-telephony functionality including voicemail, call recording, and the maintenance of a call history. The system is a combination of software and hardware. PhoneValet was awarded an Eddy award for 2006.
DECtalk was a speech synthesizer and text-to-speech technology developed by Digital Equipment Corporation in 1984, based largely on the work of Dennis Klatt at MIT, whose source-filter algorithm was variously known as KlattTalk or MITalk.
An answering machine is a device for automatically answering telephone calls and recording messages left by callers.
In telecommunication, supervision is the monitoring of a telecommunication circuit for telephony to convey to an operator, user, or a switching system, information about the operational state of the circuit. The typical operational states of trunks and lines are the idle and busy states, seizure, and disconnect. The states are indicated by various electrical signals and electrical conditions depending of the type of circuit, the type of terminating equipment, and the type of intended service.
1-5-7-1 is the name of a family of calling features in the United Kingdom, for residential and business telephone lines and for mobile telephones, that are provided by BT Group and several other telephone service providers. The family is named after the telephone number 1571, the special service number that is used to access it. Call Minder is the name of BT's highest level of 1571 service.
Google Voice is a telephone service that provides call forwarding and voicemail services, voice and text messaging, as well as U.S. and international call termination for Google Account customers in the U.S. and Canada. The service was launched by Google on March 11, 2009, after the company had acquired the service GrandCentral.
Call management is the process of designing and implementing inbound telephone call parameters, which govern the routing of these calls through a network. The process is most prominently utilized by corporations and the call centre industry and has its highest effectiveness when call logging software tools are used. Calls are routed according to the set up of calling features within the given system such as Call queues, IVR menus, Hunt groups and Recorded announcements. Call features provide a customised experience for the caller and maximize the efficiency of inbound call handling. Call management parameters can specify how calls are distributed according to an operator's skill level in relation to a call, the time and/or date of a call, the location of the caller or through automatic routing processes.
Dial-A-Joke refers to a telephone service that users can call to listen to previously recorded jokes. Jokes are recorded on an automatic answering machine. In the past, many jokes were recorded on cassette tape and then played sequentially, each caller hearing the next joke on the tape. Modern touch tone phones allow callers to select different joke types: knock-knock, joke of the day, professional humor, random, etc.
Call recording hardware, or a telephone recorder, is hardware that can be used to record telephone conversations. Call recording hardware is most often used by law enforcement, lawyers, journalist, and call centers to record phone transaction with customers.
An automatic dialer is an electronic device or software that automatically dials telephone numbers. Once the call has been answered, the autodialer either plays a recorded message or connects the call to a live person.
The Panel Machine Switching System is an early type of automatic telephone exchange for urban service, introduced in the Bell System in the 1920s. It was developed by Western Electric Laboratories, the forerunner of Bell Labs, in the U.S., in parallel with the Rotary system at International Western Electric in Belgium before World War I. Both systems had many features in common.