Yes. You can make a phone call go straight to voice mail by turning the phone off, blocking certain numbers or blocking incoming calls.
Voice mail was presented in the late 1970s. Gordon Mathews founded in 1979 a company called VMX. In 1982, VMX (voice mail express) and Mathews received a U.S. patent for his digital invention. VMX was the first voice mail provider service, and its first client being 3M.
There are numerous types of voice mail systems available. Such systems are intended to function differently based on who's using them and where, what equipment and software is used, and who's providing the phone message services.
In general, two main systems include ones based on PC technology and proprietary systems using equipment specially designed and supplied by a voice-mail provider.
For mobile users to whom voicemails are an irritating and time-consuming vestige of landline technology, Apple is seeking a solution. The latest patent that the company has scooped up will enable customers to screen their voicemails -- a widely prevalent feature in the landline days of yore. Learn more at Entrepreneur.