telephone line and the most prevalent interval present is
MULTIMESSAGE AUTOMATIC TELEPHONE determined. Once such interval is determined, it is comPOLLING METHODS AND APPARATUS pared with succeeding time intervals of the input signal
and the results of the comparison are employed in classiBACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 5 fying the input signal as periodic or not.
This invention relates to improvements in automatic The nature of the periodic or non-periodic signals telephone polling equipment of the type where a list of thus ascertained may then be further analyzed to detertelephone numbers are automatically dialed and a prere- mme tne precise condition on the telephone line and an corded message is delivered to each location which absence of signal for a selected period following a deresponds and, more particularly, to improved telephone 10 tection of periodic or non-periodic input signals may polling techniques enabling the selective announcement then be relied upon to indicate that an announce operaof one of a plurality of prerecorded messages to each tion may be initiated. The techniques set forth in this responding location. application for detecting a condition of response on a
Automatic telephone polling equipment has, in recent telephone line quickly enables automatic polling equipyears, gained wide popularity as a means for reaching a 15 ment using these techniques to ascertain when a dial large number of people on an individual, personalized tone has been acquired, or when ringing is occurring basis, to enable the delivery of a selected message. The and when the same has occurred for too long a period, message may take the form of a commercial advertise- when the dialing operation has resulted in a busy signal, ment, a sales solicitation, information bulletins provided 0r if the site has been contacted and the nature of the to subscribers, or even specialized sale information pro- 20 response elicited therefrom, i.e., an individual or an vided to a select list of customers. automatic answering device.
A relatively advanced form of telephone polling Whiie advanced telephone polling equipment of the equipment is disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,160,125; foregoing kind has proven highly popular, its use per se ^^j^f^^^^f^V^J^^^^^aB has spawned a need for even more advanced forms of of David S. Bower and Fred J. Smith and is assigned to 25 d ent exhibiting greater flexibility, together with the same assignee as the mstant application. In the tele- the capabilitv of operating in conjunction with fixed phone polling apparatus set forth in each of these pa- lists of telephone numbers to be dialed. Additionally, a tents, logical techniques are employed to cause polling multimessaJe capability wherein selected messages are cm the basis of fixed increments from an initial seed . isSued as a Action of the telephone number beini autotelephone number such that, for example, an initial tele- 30 r 6
phone call is placed to a selected initial phone number mat!cafy dla,5d wo"!d *.e ^ advantageous. Thus, and thereafter succeeding cells are placed to telephone ^ instance, for applications wherein retain selling esnumbers selected on the basis of fixed increments added tabhshments employ such equipment to advise selected to the original seed number. The automatic telephone customers of periodic purchasing opportunities, the use polling equipment set forth additionally employs logical 35 and retention of fixed lists^of telephone numbers would techniques to ascertain whether or not an appropriate be ^efty convenient. Such lists could be established to response has been obtained from the location whose represent selected classes of customers appreciating and telephone number has been automatically dialed and responsive to periodic advisory messages and the ability whenever an appropriate response is ascertained, a se- t0 dellver selected ones of a plurality of prerecorded lected message is automatically issued to that location. 40 messages would further enable classification of such This equipment also includes means for recording se- customer lists into interest categories. Furthermore, a lected responses from the site contacted so that, in the subscriber service providing selected advisory informacase of sales solicitations and the like, orders may be tion t0 one or more defined classes of subscribers would directly placed from the site contacted. The automatic also require a selective, multimessage capability to furtelephone polling apparatus disclosed may only act to 45 ther categorize selected classes of subscribers into interdeliver a single message within a polling sequence, al- est groups so that messages containing only desired though the individual message to be delivered within a information were provided to the thus defined subscribgiven polling operation may be readily changed and the ers. Similarly, in the advertisement, sales solicitation, or telephone numbers selected for a given polling opera- other polling situations, it will be appreciated that once tion are based upon fixed increments employed for the 50 lists of telephone numbers representing receptive candipurposes of generating successive telephone numbers dates were established, a multimessage capability could from the initial seed number selected. The condition of be employed to further categorize such lists into approthe telephone line being monitored, i.e., busy signal, priate interest areas.
response by an individual, response by a recording de- While the introduction of microprocessor techniques vice, dial tone, ringing and the like are also handled 55 such as is described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. through logical techniques. 101,149, as aforesaid, readily facilitates the use and re
Improved techniques for ascertaining the condition tention of telephone number listings in automatic teleon the telephone line under conditions which might phone polling equipment employing microprocessors, typically be encountered by such automatic telephone and the attendant memories thereof, it will be readily dialing equipment are set forth in U.S. application Ser. 60 appreciated that providing a multimessage capability No. 101,149, now U.S. Pat. No. 4,356,348, as entitled for such equipment as well as establishing modes of "TECHNIQUES FOR DETECTING A CONDI- operation which insure that each telephone number in a TION OF RESPONSE ON THE TELEPHONE list is not only called but contacted presents significant LINE" which was filed Dec. 7, 1979, in the name of additional problems. This position is taken because, as Fred J. Smith and is assigned to the assignee of the 65 will be readily appreciated by those of ordinary skill in instant application. In this application, microprocessor the art, continuously repositioning a magnetic media to techniques are employed to ascertain time intervals establish a select prerecorded message at a playback between the zero crosspoints of an input signal from the station in response to the message requirements of a next