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Voice Mail History

During the 70s and 80s, the cost of making telephone calls started to decrease and most businesses began to use the telephone more and more.

Secretarial pools also began to decrease as the need for business correspondence decreased for deals were being made over the phone. Voice mail resulted from the need of communication systems that covered multiple time zones.

Voice mail also allowed for people to leave messages for others during off business hours, lunch hours, breaks, and meetings.

It helped alleviate the many bottlenecks that were taking place in the business communication arena.

Intial concept of voice mail

At least that’s what the initial concept was supposed to do. E-mail and cell phones were not really used during the 1970s and 80s and they did not see much use until the middle of the 1990s.

In their place was the message center, a centralized, manual answering center where one or a few people answered everyone else’s phones. The calls were forwarded to the message center and the operators knew exactly whose phone was ringing and how to answer the call.

Unfortunately this method was not efficient during peak calling hours and operators were swamped with the influx and caused pink message slips to be incomplete or incorrect.

General Electric

GE, one of the voice mail pioneers, developed a system that worked with proprietary PBX telephone systems that were used in businesses. These first voice mail options allowed callers to leave messages for a specific person in a secure environment.

This helped improve communication in the entire business community and on average saved companies over US$ 1,100 per employee.

Voice Mail Today

Today, voice mail has branched out of the business office and is found as service on just about any type of phone available – be it cellular or land-line.