Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Mailing Recorded Messages Was Once an Actual Alterative To Long Distance Phone Charges

Illustration for article titled Mailing Recorded Messages Was Once an Actual Alterative To Long Distance Phone Charges

Sherman, set the wayback machine to ridiculous because back in 1967, Smith-Corona—best known for its typewriters—actually sold a device called the Mail Call. What did it do? Let users record messages on small cartridges and mail them to anyone with a matching device.

Advertisement

In a way it was like the earliest form of voicemail, except that users would be stuck in a perpetual game of phone tag. And Smith-Corona promoted the system as being a more personal alternative to writing a letter, but without the poor sound quality of calling someone on the phone. It was also claimed to be cheaper than placing a long distance phone call, but with a two-unit starter kit costing $70 back in 1967—equivalent to around $450 today—you'd have to get quite a bit of use out of it to break even.

Illustration for article titled Mailing Recorded Messages Was Once an Actual Alterative To Long Distance Phone Charges
Advertisement

[Mark's Scrapbook of Oddities & Treasures via Neatorama]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

billspencer
Bill Spencer

Go back further to around 1954. At age 13 I had saved my allowance and bought a reel-to-reel (mono) recorder, much to my parent's bewilderment. One of the things I used it for was to be a "pen-pal" with a kid in England, an idea promoted by something I read about in a comic book. We would mail small, 3" or 5" tape reels back and forth. It only lasted a short while because we found it hard to think of things to talk about.