The History of Answering Services
As businesses started to grow many years ago, the need for a solution to the increased number of calls and increased labor costs was the answering service. It started as a centralized message center and originally was based inside of the company. There were a handful of people who would man everyone's phones. If a phone line was busy, for example, the call would route to the "call director" which we know today as a switchboard. The operator would know which line the caller came from because they would have a flashing light next to the button for their line which was labeled with their extension. They would take the message for that person's line and put it into their file. When they called to pick up their messages, the operator would be able to give them to the person over the phone.
Soon, companies emerged seeing the rising need for this service of telephone secretaries for other companies who could not set up their own call directors or that did not want to have one in house. This eliminated the need for buying new equipment, paying to maintain it, and training new employees. It was quickly outsourced to a third party company known now as the answering service.
How Technology Changed the Game
In the 80's, pagers were introduced and were used to transmit information instead of over the phone. Information such as room numbers could be sent to doctors to know where to report to. When computers became more and more popular, alpha numerical paging was a new message delivery service used. Information could now be typed into the computer and transmitted to pagers with text instead of numbers only. In the 90's, the use of pagers slowly declined and cell phone text messaging and email became more prominent.