Answering Machine

Definition of Answering Machine

An answering machine is a telecommunication device that records incoming telephone messages from callers when the called party is unavailable to answer the call. It typically plays a recorded greeting to inform callers that their message will be saved, and then records the caller’s message for later playback. Answering machines can be standalone devices or integrated into telephones or smartphone voicemail systems.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Answering Machine” is: /ˈænsərɪŋ məˈʃiːn/Here’s a breakdown of the pronunciation:- Answering: /ˈæn.sər.ɪŋ/- Machine: /məˈʃiːn/Keep in mind that this is based on the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

Key Takeaways

  1. An answering machine can automatically record incoming calls and messages when the intended recipient is unable to answer the phone.
  2. These devices allow users to listen to recorded messages, ensuring that important information is never missed, regardless of their availability at the time of the call.
  3. Answering machines are compatible with both landline and mobile phones, enabling added convenience and flexibility for the user.

Importance of Answering Machine

The technology term “Answering Machine” is important because it revolutionized the way people manage their telephonic communications.

Answering machines allowed individuals and businesses to record messages from callers when they were unable to answer a call, providing a more efficient and organized method of communication.

This innovation greatly enhanced productivity and enabled people to prioritize and respond to messages accordingly.

The answering machine laid the foundation for modern voicemail systems, call forwarding, and other telecommunication advancements, making it a vital part of the telecommunication industry’s history and evolution.


Answering machines are designed to fulfill the essential purpose of receiving and recording messages from callers when the intended recipient is either unavailable or away from the telephone. This technology, which gained popularity in the later part of the 20th century, allowed individuals to maintain communication in a more organized and efficient manner, even if they were unable to attend to calls in real-time.

By storing voicemail messages for later retrieval, answering machines enabled people to listen to the information at their convenience and make necessary responses, thus avoiding the loss of important information or opportunities. In a way, this invention has revolutionized both personal and professional communication, as it increased accessibility and enabled individuals to prioritize and manage contacts with ease.

Over the years, advancements in technology have further improved the capabilities of answering machines, making it more user-friendly and versatile. Apart from basic voice recording, modern answering machines now offer additional features such as caller ID, text-to-speech functionality, and remote-access voicemail retrieval.

Considering business applications, the integration of answering machines into telephone systems has greatly enhanced customer experience, as businesses can continue to connect with their customers even outside of operating hours. Overall, the purpose and utilization of answering machines have significantly impacted our daily lives, streamlining communication processes and ensuring that individuals and organizations can communicate important information effectively, regardless of physical barriers or timing disparities.

Examples of Answering Machine

Home landline telephone answering machines: One of the most widely recognized examples of answering machine technology is found in home landline telephone systems. These devices are connected to a user’s telephone and will automatically answer incoming calls if the user is unavailable, thus allowing the caller to leave a voice message. Often, this technology also includes features such as call screening, remote access to messages, and the ability to record personalized greetings.

Voicemail in smartphones: As technology advanced, answering machines have become integrated into smartphones as voicemail systems. These digital services automatically take over when a user is unavailable to answer a phone call, letting callers leave a voicemail that the user can later access and listen to. Smartphone voicemail systems often provide additional features such as visual voicemail, allowing users to view a list of their messages and choose which ones to listen to, and transcription which converts voicemails into text format.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems in customer service: Answering machine technology has also evolved into more advanced, automated systems such as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems used by businesses and organizations for customer support and call handling. IVR systems use pre-recorded messages to provide information and route callers to the appropriate department, based on the choice made by the caller, allowing businesses to manage high volumes of calls more effectively. These systems can also be integrated with Text-to-Speech and Automatic Speech Recognition technology for even greater functionality.

Answering Machine FAQ

What is an answering machine?

An answering machine is a device used to answer incoming phone calls and record messages from the caller when the recipient is unable to answer the call directly. It typically includes a greeting played to callers and the ability to playback recorded messages for the recipient.

How does an answering machine work?

When a call comes in, the answering machine detects the ringing and answers the call after a specified number of rings. It then plays a pre-recorded greeting to the caller and begins recording their message. The recipient can later listen to the messages left by callers, delete them, or save them for future reference.

What are the differences between a digital and an analog answering machine?

Analog answering machines use cassette tapes to record messages, while digital answering machines store messages internally using digital memory. Digital machines offer better sound quality, higher storage capacity, and easier message management compared to analog machines.

Can I use an answering machine with my cell phone?

An answering machine is typically not necessary for a cell phone, as most modern cell phones already include an integrated voicemail system to manage callers’ messages. However, there are certain applications or third-party devices that can be used in conjunction with your cell phone to provide similar functionality if desired.

How can I set up my answering machine?

To set up your answering machine, connect it to your phone line and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for recording your greeting and configuring your preferred number of rings before the machine answers. Once configured, test the system by calling your phone and leaving a message to ensure everything is working properly.

Related Technology Terms

  • Voicemail System
  • Call Screening
  • Telephone Message Recorder
  • Message Playback
  • Outgoing Greeting

Sources for More Information

  • Wikipedia –
  • Techopedia –
  • HowStuffWorks –
  • –

About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents