Telephone answering machines help people by playing a pre-recorded message that can inform callers that the recipient of the call is unavailable, and these devices record messages left by callers so that the recipient can know that someone is attempting to contact him. Answering machine recordings can also be played back at a later time so recipients can reference an old message at a later date.
The idea behind the answering machine is to create a system that allows people to never miss a phone a call. Before answering machines, a person could be taking a shower or shopping at the store without knowing that a friend or family had been desperately attempting to contact him. If the caller was on a timeline and had to do something that wouldn't allow her to continue calling, the recipient would have no idea that something was needed of him. Answering machines and caller ID fix this problem.
The playback feature of answering machines allows users to skip messages that don't require immediate attention to get to the messages that are more urgent. After resolving urgent issues, the machine user can play back the old messages and take care of things in order of priority.