A collection vintage answering machine telephone systems from the 1960s through the 1980s, including some of the earliest telephone answering machines on the market.
The Record-O-Phone vintage answering machine was first manufactured by RoboSonics/ ElectroSpace Corp. in 1965. They were the manufacturers of the very first personal answering machine a few years earlier. The Record-O-Fone retailed for $679 in 1972, and had an optional $39.95 monthly support membership to cover technical issues, repairs, and in-home service calls!
The unit above was built in 1968, and features an 8-track style permanent loop tape to record outbound greetings, and a separate reel tape to record incoming messages. It’s built like a tank, with aluminum knobs and faceplate, metal chassis and pressed steel encasement. A built in handheld mic is used to record outgoing messages. The “Tele Key” allows the user to call home and access recorded messages from the machine remotely. Playing the beep tone remotely through a phone handset initiates playback.
Phone-Mate 800S Vintage Answering Machine
This Phone-Mate 800S vintage answering machine looks really cool and is pretty big, measuring 11.5 inches x 9.5 inches x 3.5 inches. The 800S was sold between 1973 and 1976. It has a real wood casing with shiny black plastic and a brushed aluminum control panel, and it looks like something straight out of Mission: Impossible (the TV show, not the movies). The Phone-mate 800S is a genuine 1970s playboy bachelor’s telephone answering machine, with looks that complement the thousands of dollars worth of stereo Hi-Fi equipment any self-respecting playboy bachelor would have. It has a built-in recording tape that is permanently installed into the machine and a small external microphone used to record the greeting message. We have no clue how to operate this vintage answering machine. It powers on, tape rewinds, fast-forwards and plays. We can’t hear any previous messages, only the old fashioned “beeeeeep” then a few seconds of silence before another beep. Some basic operating instructions are printed on back of the unit explain how to record greetings and playback messages. This Phone-Mate 800S vintage answering machine has sold, but we consider ourselves pioneers in recognizing the true coolness factor of these unusual collectibles, and we have found a few nice ones over the years. They can be used with any landline, and they provide a genuine nostalgic feel for both you and those who call you. Scroll down further to see more cool retro vintage answering machines we have come across.
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Crown Telephone Valet Vintage Answering Machine
This Crown Telephone Valet model CTA-4000 vintage answering machine was manufactured around 1968 and had a costly retail price of $99.99 at your friendly local Lafayette Electronics store. Bbased on inflation, that’s over $650.00 in todays money! Of course, this was full-blown cutting edge technology for its time. The Crown Radio Corp. 9 Transistor Telephone Valet is comprised of two pieces, the message tape Control Unit and the telephone receiver Induction Box, which sits on any standard Western Electric or Stromberg Carlson style telephone. The Telephone Valet is equipped with a strange 8-track cassette style “Message Tape” that front-loads into the main unit. A mic input on the rear is used to record the outgoing message. Incoming messages are recorded on any standard cassette tape recorder with a remote control mic connection. The Induction Box actually “picks up” the receiver when it rings, the outgoing message (up to 30 seconds) plays into the headset, and the incoming message (up to one minute) is recorded. Pretty high and far out.
DuoFone Vintage Ansewring Machine
The Radio Shack Duofone Model TAD-311 vintage answering machine is a dual cassette style with microprocessor control. It accepts any standard size cassette tape for recording messages and has a separate tape cartridge that is used to record the greeting. An analog tape counter helps locate specific playback locations on the messages cassette. The Duofone has an appealing retro style with a bruhsed aluminum control panel and a faux wood grain shell. This one that we found was in excellent condition. The original box and cassettes were intact. The greeting cassette has a recorded message from the original owner; a sweet old southern lady who flubbed the greeting and then cut it off before she finished! The 60 minutes message cassette was completely blank. In our sincere opinion, she probably never made it past the point of attempting to record her first message and put this thing back in the box! Operating instructions are printed inside the cassette deck door and they appear to have details for all of the answering machine’s functions. The Duofone measures 9.75 inches x 6.25 inches x 2.5 inches.
PhoneSitter Vintage Ansewring Machine
This 1981 Phonesitter P-70 vintage telephone answering machine was lightly used and still in excellent working condition with original box and cassette with factory pre-recorded message. All functions appear to be working correctly (we don’t know exactly how to operate it because we don’t have the instructions, but the tape plays rewinds and fast forwards). The item was used, so there are some old messages on the cassette. Side two is blank and is used to record your own personal message. The Phonesitter can be used to record your live telephone conversations. It is in wonderful cosmetic condition with virtually no wear whatsoever. It holds standard size cassette tapes, not mini-cassettes. The Phonesitter has a classic retro brown and orange color scheme and measures 11 inches x 8.5 inches x 2.75 inches. This sold and was shipped to Canada.
Message Minder Vintage Answering Machine
From the defunct TT Systems of Yonkers, NY, the Message Minder MM-1600 telephone answering system is a vintage ’70s analog unit that records messages on standard-size cassette tapes. It has a classic wood grain and brushed aluminum design with big and chunky, easy-to-use buttons and switch knobs. The unit measures 11 inches x 9 inches x 3 inches. We found this one in near-mint condition with the instruction manual and paperwork, as well as the original box. Unfortunately, the battery-powered remote control unit that originally came with the MM-1600 was lost. It allowed the user to check their messages from another location by calling their home number, holding the remote to the receiver mouthpiece and pressing the remote’s tone button, which automatically activates the playback feature. An opulent and futuristic feature, we were very sad it was missing, because it would have been fun to play with. The unit performs perfectly with or without the remote, it was just a cool extra feature. There was a recording on the message loop tape from the prior owner; a somewhat urgent-sounding message from an elderly gentleman who states that “it is not POSSIBLE for us to answer the phone”! The received messages cassette was blank. Both cassettes were the original TT Systems tapes. It sold to a gentleman in Switzerland!
Stay tuned, as we will continue to update this page with every vintage answering machine we come across.