In chapter 5 of The Smart Kid, the school counselor calls a home that has an answering machine–a new experience for the counselor. Although the first commercial answering machines were sold in the 1960s, they didn’t become very popular until the 80s.
In 1878, shortly after inventing his phonograph, Thomas Edison created a “top ten list” of uses of the phonograph. Number ten read:
“Connection with the telephone, so as take that instrument an auxiliary in the transmission of permanent and invaluable records, instead of being the recipient of momentary and fleeting communication” (source)