Thursday Throwback: The Answering Machine

Long before cell phones and voicemail, there was a big clunky device that we used to take our messages for us when someone called. You remember these things, right? You’d hold a button down to record your outgoing message on to a cassette tape, usually taking five or ten times before you actually got it right, and presto! You were good to go. No longer did you have to wait around for Aunt Suzie to call, she could simply just leave a message saying when she was coming over, and you could make sure you weren’t around when she did.

The answering machine was truly a marvel of modern technology. Now you could pick and choose who you spoke to, playing favorites with your friends. “I’ll call that one back first, and maybe I’ll call the other one back tomorrow.” It was like high school all over again as you made people feel like they were left out of the loop.

Perhaps the best thing about the answering machine was when you called people and got a silly greeting from them. I swear, I heard everything from entire families singing with a complete orchestra in the background, to kids who sounded cute telling you their mommy and daddy weren’t home. They weren’t really cute though, they just had a cute voice. In reality there were ugly as mud.

While the answering machine may have been transformed into what we now know today as voicemail, it still holds a place in my heart for being the first device that made me feel like one of the cool kids, when really, I was anything but. “No, I won’t call you back. Take that, sucker!” Ah who am I kidding, no one ever called me.