A device that allows phone callers to record their messages if the phone is not picked up. AT&T, then a monopoly on all phone service in the U.S., debuted the first answering machine in the early 1950s.
The "Telegraphone" Was Invented 50 Years Earlier
In 1900, Danish inventor Valdemar Poulsen created the first answering machine using magnetic recording on a wire. Astonishing the world for its high-tech functionality, the Telegraphone was prohibited in the U.S. because AT&T did not allow attaching third-party equipment to its network until 1956. See AT&T