Telephone answering machines are devices that automatically answer telephone calls and record messages left by callers when the party called is unable to answer. Within households such devices are often used as "virtual secretaries" to screen unwanted calls or to facilitate communication while away from home. The first automated answering machines became available in the late 1930s in Europe, and the first commercial answering machine was sold in the United States in 1960. It was not, however, until the advent of digital technology in the early 1980s that ownership of telephone answering machines became widespread. Ownership in the United States has increased significantly since then, with more than 70% of households owning a telephone answering machine in 2006. Compared with people who do not have ...
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