Roman R. Gonsett
If you had to guess which year the first telephone answering device was
invented, would you think of 1912? After all, the telephone had just been
invented a few years earlier!
Despite how unbelievable it sounds, the first telephone answering machine
was in fact invented in 1912 in Edmonton, by Roman R. Gonsett, an
electronics inventor who was, as they say, ahead of his time.
Gonsett immigrated to Eastern Canada from the Ukraine in 1907 before
settling in Alberta. He married Irene Stefanyna of Chipman, Alberta and
shortly thereafter, they moved to Edmonton where he set up a laboratory.
It was from there that Gonsett first began working to create his
In the early part of his career, Gonsett realized Canadian isolation was
not working in his favour. He knew that if his inventions were going to
enjoy any market success, it was going to have to be elsewhere. In 1916,
consequently, the family moved to California.
In California, Gonsetts career flourished. Sometimes referred to as the
"Ukrainian Edison," he secured patents on almost 100 of his inventions
ranging from a two-way radio to electric scissors to an aircraft computer
capable of measuring the weight and balance of an aircraft in flight.
Though he never received any Canadian patents, Gonsetts inventions were
important enough that he received a commendation from the United States
Navy for assistance designing equipment during the Second World War.
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