International Women’s Day – Tribute to Lorriane Nelson (aka “Audrey Audix”)

I know this is a day old, but earlier today, I was thinking of an empowering woman related to my site. I am not a big believer of social trends via a hashtag; but I thought in a world of people becoming more and more “bossier”, more and more emotional, and always have a grudge against some “bossy” figure; especially in technology; I thought of all the women in the world, should be the voice of AUDIX. Below is a snopysis of a previously posted article of the email interview of what Avaya sometimes described her voice as “Audrey Audix” in the Modular Messaging platforms.   I guess I could also classify this post as a belated/redefined “Woman Crush Wednesday” even though I am a MUCH younger guy.

(BTW: that static page of AUDIX within the Tribute to System 75 has been finally taken down since we have new stuff since.)

With the decline of voicemail boxes and Avaya’s questionable future, I have to interject some editorials; I’ve used and heard other voicemail systems, and let me say some of the prompts are often rude, crude or just plain condensing. Women sounding like men, ordering you to hang up at gunpoint, etc. Lorriane is far from the competition.  Remember, she always recorded the prompts err, fragments with a smile.

This investigative project is mostly the background to the voice behind the legendary voice mail system, that has been branded AUDIX (the acronym known as Audio Information Exchange), Intuity, Modular Messaging and smaller systems like Partner and Merlin Messaging. Technical information or specific dates or years is not part of the narrative because she doesn’t have that information. Regardless, the early days of the enterprise voicemail system has some interesting history in itself.

 Despite her claim to fame, she was not the first voice of Audix.  According to her, a woman with a Texan drawl (the person’s name is unknown) had done the prompts for at least Release 1. The Bell Labs team wanted the voice to sound more New York, however they didn’t know where to go. Hey I wouldn’t blame them too. In the world of business, if you had a Texan (or heck someone from the West Coast) giving you prompts, would you go asleep or a loose a prospective customer? Especially when a product of AT&T was about to evolve into the competitive marketplace during the time Divestiture?

A man who had once worked on a Bell Labs project of a system with an A/V interface that could bridge such equipment in various rooms or classrooms through a telephony system; was tasked to find the voice. The said project is believed to never gone to market. This manager called a film producer in the Yellow Pages and asked he knew any voice over talent. The film producer had recommended a radio talent to the Bell Labs manager. They spotted a radio news reporter in the Denver market who worked at KADE in Boulder, then KADX going by the name “Lauren Hendricks.”

You can read more by clicking here.

Telephony Art: AUDIX Cabinet, circa 1985

As a standard operating procedure at the Museum, I typically send thank you cards to certain people who have helped contribute to the site. As you have read earlier in February, I did the profile of the voice of AUDIX, the voice mail application for Avaya Red Systems.

I don’t want to show the entire card, since it was addressed to Lorraine Nelson herself, but I did a sketch (yeah I’m an artist) of what I believe was the first hardware based system, that was basically half a carrier, I’m assuming because you know AT&T lacked documentation back then and Avaya likes to not live off their heritage. I mailed this card about a couple weeks ago to her Connecticut operations.

Since I’ve not been in constant updating the site, as we approach Mother’s Day, my mother recently was exposed to this site. She has enjoyed a lot of what I posted. I can’t help to say that her perspective of logging into her AUDIX has changed because your humble Curator has been in contact with the legendary voiceover.


Exclusive: Profile of the Voice of AUDIX!

Welcome to AUDIX. For help at anytime, press star-H. Please enter your extension and pound sign.

Default AUDIX Login prompt

 In today’s special post, in continuing series of the early history of modern day Avaya PBX systems, you humble curator had actually reached out to the “Voice of Voicemail”, Lorraine Nelson. I would like to thank her for her cooperation with the project.

Continue reading

A Tribute to AUDIX (I Hope!)

Part of the then System 75 package was it’s voice mail system known as AUDIX. AUDIX stood for Audio Information Exchange, and early on supported UNIX email and faxing integration. AUDIX was basically designed for voice mails. It’s early history is very vague. It’s early existence goes as far back as 1985, though documented reports by tech papers claimed AUDIX was ready for market in 1986, but was generally on the market in 1987.

For more on this placeholder information, its on it’s own page.

Lorraine Nelson – The Lady Behind AUDIX!

Thanks to Jason who gave me this link a while back but took me a while to catch up on emails.

In the mid 1990s, the Lorraine Nelson was featured in a The Wall Street Journal Report (that syndicated weekend show) on the subject of voice prompts. (Don’t let the cheesy visual effects in the intro mistake you from the 1980s!)

This video came from her own profile on YouTube, but I’d suspect this was recorded in the mid 90s. In the shortened video, the report stated that she worked for AT&T and a decade before, came up with the idea for the voice of AUDIX. (So with that, it would indicate AUDIX was released sometime between 1986 to 1987 – there is no official record of a specific date or year when the system actually came out to market in 2015.)

Nelson came up with a vision of being the “nicest secretary” for others to hear and provided all the voice prompts for AUDIX (and later Merlin Mail, Merlin [Magix] Messaging, and Partner Messaging.) All of her voiceovers had “a smile” to them.

Years gone by, she lives in Connecticut, and according to list-serves a few years back she does the announcing for the Connecticut Lottery, and 7 years ago she mimicked an AUDIX like prompt for a promo at CNBC when they pre-empted Larry Kudlow’s show during the 2008 Bejing Olympics. The promo ended almost like an AUDIX with the signature “Please Wait.”

While you can still hear her in other places, Avaya seems to be doing what Nelson didn’t want the voice to be. Again I’ve read comments in the list-serve in the past, and there was an indication that her voice was being mimicked with a synthesizer instead of finding her number (or find her profile on YouTube) so she could provide new prompts.

If you ever heard of IP Office’s voice mail system, one would suspect that was roboticily produced. Unless some disease hit Nelson, I can’t get why it’s so robotic!