Monday, December 10, 2007

Once, Answering Machines Roamed the Earth

I was reading this article over the weekend on how new telephone technology is making the phone survey harder to do. But something else got my attention in the first paragraph:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Pollsters taking the pulse of voters this political season are confronting growing obstacles from cell phones — and an electorate that is increasingly walling itself off with caller ID and answering machines.
Answering machines? In an article about modern technology, that seems kind of retro. I get the concept, but isn’t voice mail more prevalent than answering machines now? Or am I off-base simply because I personally don’t know very many people who have an actual answering machine? Not that I’m intimate with everyone’s telephone equipment, but I can honestly say I know only one person, for sure, that uses an answering machine. And this guy is definitely telephone low-tech. He only has a cell phone when whatever women he happens to be dating at the time requires him to have one (how did women keep track of men before cells?). So do people still use answering machines and I’m just being a com-tech snob?

Coincidentally, this is in alignment with something else I was thinking about the other day. I was looking up a phone number online and wondered why we still need phone books (answer: a lot of us don’t!). That got me to thinking about what other things I used ten years ago on a regular basis but are now obsolete. The phone book, the answering machine and the caller ID box were about all I could think of. Maybe I just had phones on the brain but it seemed to me that was about it. Everything having to do with telephone communications has changed in the last decade. But is there more? I’d say the VCR is pretty darn close these days but not quite there for me.


JeromeProphet said...

iPhone Dude,

Not everyone has voicemail. Nor is it true that everyone who has voicemail likes trying to retrieve their voicemail.

I personally programmed my phone to walk through the login, and navigation of my voicemail. Still I hate detest it.

One of the reasons the iPhone was designed with the intuitive voicemail retrieval system, similar to what everyone enjoys with email, is that people hate voicemail the way big brother phone carriers provide it.

In fact Apple demanded, and was given the opportunity to do something no other cellphone designer ever was - the opportunity to rearrange the way a cell phone access voicemessages. This was needed to allow iPhone to present voicemail in the way that it does - random access - not sequential access still forced on the rest of us.

I speak to dozens of clients everyday, and to our companies field staff, and I can say that answering machines are very much present in the business world.

And many regular folk use them too.

I don't, but then again I'm the kind of person who totally ignores all of my voicemail until I am notified that my voicemail is full.

I then go out and delete them all without listening to them - simply because I like tens of millions of others can't stand listening to people drone on just to get to the message you really need to hear.

BY THE WAY THE SPECIAL WORD I MUST TYPE IN TO SUBMIT THIS POST IS OUTRAGEOUSLY LONG. What the heck is Google thinking allowing the words to get so long.


Anonymous said...


I totally disagree with your hypothesis. Just yesterday I woke up and made some coffee in my percolator coffee maker and then went outside and took a picture of the ice storm with my Polaroid camera. The picture turned out so well that I went to the payphone and called my cousin and asked her for her address so that I could mail her the picture. After getting her address I went back home and used my typewriter to write her a letter and send her the picture.

Later that morning I put my galoshes over my Chuck Taylor hightops and went for a little walk. I was in a good mood so I put in my Duran Duran tape into my walkman for some easy listening. During the middle of my walk, I got paged by my TV repairman and had to hurry back home to meet him. I had been having problems with my rabbit ears antenna and had scheduled this appointment a few weeks prior. The bill came to $75 and he told me save my carbon credit card receipt in case I had further problems.

After the repairman left, I was bored so I broke out my Atari and played a few games of Space Invaders and Asteroids. I got hungry so I made some popcorn on the stove and used the excess tinfoil to further enhance my antenna. It was approaching noon and I needed some exercise so I got on my trampoline and had a nice hula hoop workout for 45 minutes while watching Phil Donahue. I then got out my Sears weight bench with the concrete weights and worked on my physique. I then vacuumed the shag carpet and put on my leisure suit and got ready to work. I sell encyclopedias door to door but had to drive to the office to pick up another supply. I got lost on the way there but fortunately had my bubble compass on my dash and found my way back to the office.

During the next few hours I knocked on about 50 doors and sold 4 sets of encyclopedias. I got a little thirsty walking so I drank 1 Tab and a grape Shasta. They were quite refreshing.

When I finally got home my son asked me to put a new baseball card in his bike spokes as he felt like riding his bike in the snow. While I was doing that, I noticed my wife hang drying our clothes on the clothesline in the back yard. She looked pretty hot and I had had a good day at work so I went and grabbed a can of beer and sat down in the bean bag chair waiting for her to come back in hoping that we could spend some “quiet” time together since our son wasn’t home. Well she shut me down. So I got up and went to push the ON button on the TV and turned the knob to get the channel I wanted. It worked great and I thought I had spent my $15 on the repairman wisely.

30 minutes later my son comes home from Goldblatts carrying a Farrah Fawcett poster and asks me to put it up in his room for him. I ran out of tape so I used some Silly Putty to make the poster stick and then went back to watching Solid Gold and Dance Fever on the TV. It was now 3:30 pm and I went into my office and checked my stocks from the ticker tape machine I had received for my birthday last spring. I felt a cold coming on and reached into my pocket for my handkerchief and blew my nose.

It is getting late night, so I will turn off my lava lamp and go to bed.

Dave said...


All well and good and funny but I was only going back 10 years. But nice recreation of the 1970s! Oh, and beanbag chairs will never go out of style.