Old-fashioned answering machines don't work on today's phone lines?

This is for telecom people: analogue (user name synergy, but yes I do have a small collection of analogue vintage 60’s & up electronics) cassette answering machines won’t work like they used to, I really don’t like the digital voice answering systems and I don’t like paying up to 9$ per mo. for our local telco’s service. Yes I’m aware cell phones have this voice mail service- I’m talking landline, copper wire telephone here.

All tape cassette answering machines I’ve tried don’t work properly: they either do not pick up the caller’s message, hang up right after the phone picks up, or cuts off the message early. I suspected it had something to do with voltage on the line, or some sort of signalling system or device on the telc0’s end, and not the answering machine equipment. After a very arduous and vain search on various search engines looking for answers I found this old google groups “comp.dcom.telecoms” message addressing this issue, something "Call-Originating Interface"about a CPC signal- “Calling Party Disconnect” , and something about a microvolt? that is some sort of signalling system that phone co’s USED to keep up on their lines, but since it is not Tarifffed by the govt, they have no legal liability to carry it any more. I sort of understand the issue a little, but I can’t find any sources listing answering machines in particular. There’s a City-Data forum about this, but only from someone else asking the same question as I (it was not me).

I am kind of sad that these machines won’t work now. I’m also a little angry that we’re forced to essentially pay for monthly fees for what I could’ve paid 3$ for at a Goodwill, once. But, my question is why exactly answering machines of the cassette tape kind won’t work on today’s landline phone lines anymore, or at least in my area which sadly, is in Arizona now (sorry God I do appreciate the roof over my head I truly do).

PS it’s not the machines, I mean the answering machines are in proper working order (i get a lot of advice to try a different machine). Any help or even advice on what terms to search for online or specific sites to visit in my quest would really be appreciated.

What world do you live in where you have to pay extra for voicemail? It’s been included with phone service for years. I didn’t even even have to pay extra for it when I was living in a small town where the only phone company was “Zeke’s Purty Decent Kumyoon --Comyun–Talkin’ Service.”

Reading between the lines a little - the answer seems to be that in the past, older answering machines received a specific signal telling them that the call was over, and to stop recording. That is what the Calling Party Disconnect signal is. It looks as if there were a few options for how this was done, but a short drop of voltage on the line (Open Loop Disconnect) is one way. Specific signalling tones another. If there was any other reason for signalling early in a call in a modern system, an old answering machine would likely get confused, and think the call had disconnected. In particular if an exchange was re-using signalling for some other purpose. Caller-id comes to mind. If caller-id is in use it comes in between the first and second rings. If your machine picks up after the first ring it would get the CID tones, and that might confuse it enough to drop the call. Or there could be some other similar issue that is confusing the machine. In general it seems that machines are waiting to be told to drop out, rather than being held on. But confusing one enough that it does drop the call might be all too easy,

It would not surprise me that there are not reasonably easy ways of kludging around this - but it may be a a bit of a journey.

Have you checked with competing phone services, like TV cable companies? Our local cable company (Charter) offers full phone service, unlimited domestic long-distance dialing, Caller ID and voicemail, all for the minimum package price, and cheaper than AT&T.

Alternatively, how about using a personal logger (you’ll have to google for it), a gadget that attaches to your phone line and computer. It logs all incoming and outgoing calls and records all of them, all of the time, automatically. For me, it serves as a call record and voice mail, sort of a super answering machine. Retrieving your messages remotely isn’t a native function, but it can be done.

It seems to me the OP wants to use the vintage machines, so I doubt that recommending a different machine sill be satisfactory.

Answering machines were killed by disruptive innovation. Most of the world doesn’t mourn the death of such devices because we have objectively better alternatives now.

They should work on a regular phone company phone line. Try reversing the two lines (Tip and Ring).

I’ve heard of various devices not working on cable TV “land line phone lines”. In that case their interface gizmos may be made in China and that country’s products are notorious to not be made to proper engineering specifications.

Search google.com for the following words and read, read, read…

telephone isolation interface

“Regular” wireline phone service is becoming a rarity, especially in new housing developments, or in areas that have been updated to bring in TV and fast data service. I suspect the OP’s phone company is providing a VOIP-based service where they run a single fiber line to a box in the neighborhood and then run regular style wire to the homes. They save huge amounts of copper ($$$) this way and 99.something% of their customers don’t know or care.

I’ve got Uverse service here, and the Uverse residential gateway does not reliably put out a forward disconnect or calling party control signal when a call ends, so my voice mail records a minute of silence or the fast-busy “hang up now” noise if a caller hangs up during the outgoing message.

Ironically, both the service (Uverse) and my voice mail (Merlin Legend) are both AT&T products.

Are you sure there is problem with your answering machines or voice mail?

I had answering machine for a long time before I switch over to voice mail . But many times with the answering machine or voice mail people hang up when they know you are not home. Don’t like leaving a message.

Some older answering machine will cut you off if you are really chatting and do not leave a brief message. This may be some thing to safe tape space. It normally will only cut you off if you are really chatting.

AT&T products are not what they used to be…

I bought an AT&T phone. Land line phones are supposed to work when the power goes out. Well THIS phone not only did not work when the power went out, but also tied up all the other phones in the house so they would not work either!

I have since purchased old “Western Electric” touch tone phones at yard sales and 2nd hand stores (around $2 each) and they work like they should.