Voice mail. The ATM. The remote control. These inventions are so much of today’s life, we barely can function without them.
Gordon Matthews is the inventor and patent-holder for voice mail. In the late ‘70s, Matthews began working on the technology that would come to be called voice mail. His "Voice Message Exchange" managed electronic messages in a digital format, and he patented it in 1982.
At times, it seems Matthews saw himself as a bit of a Dr. Frankenstein.
"I'm not really pleased with some of the things I see voicemail being used for today," Matthews once remarked.
"We didn't design this technology to annoy people, but rather make their lives easier."
In 1939, Luther Simjian patented an early and not-so-successful prototype of an ATM, a "hole-in-the-wall machine," that would allow customers to make financial transactions. Simjian applied for 20 patents related to his ATM invention and field tested his ATM machine in what is now Citicorp. After six months, the bank reported that there was little demand for the new invention and discontinued its use.
Some experts have the opinion that James Goodfellow of Scotland holds the earliest patent date of 1966 for a modern ATM, and John D. White in the U.S. is often credited with inventing the first free-standing ATM design. In 1967, John Shepherd-Barron invented and installed an ATM in a Barclays Bank in London. Don Wetzel invented an American-made ATM in 1968.
By the mid- to late 1980s, ATMs became part of mainstream banking.
Eugene Polley changed TV forever by inventing the "Flash-Matic," the first wireless TV remote, in 1955. The device looked like a ray gun. It has given way to the sleeker, high-tech devices. Before this invention, people actually had to get up off the couch, walk to their TV and turn a dial to select the channel they wanted to watch.
What would life be without these inventions? Which one is the most important to you, and the one you cannot live without? Please pick one and tell us why in the comments below.
NATO Patch Poll
To last week's : Will NATO Summit Give the Chicago Region a Global Boost? A total of 68 percent of the respondents said, "No. Time will tell that the summit was a waste of time and money." A total of 31 percent answered, "Yes. What is good for the city is good for the suburbs."