Black History:  Special Delivery!!

benjamin thornton
Benjamin Thornton Patent Drawing

Black Mail Fast Fact: Black inventor, Benjamin Thornton developed a device for recording voice messages from telephones in 1936. His invention was outfitted with a turntable for a record disc, an electric motor to operate the table, and an electric switch that connected it to the phone line. Utilizing a clock attachment, the machine could also forward messages as well as track what time a call was made. The recorder also had an apparatus that allowed the user to record an outgoing message. Devices invented to record phone messages date back to the late 1800’s. So Thornton’s invention was not the first of its kind. However the devices’ ability to both record and send messages, along with its ability to record the time of messages was quite significant. Thornton’s invention was a predecessor to the answering machine.

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