Before Facetime, There was the Video Phone

Long before smartphones and common video messaging services like Skype, businesses were long researching way to communicate via "video phones". Though the video phone failed to penetrate the market, the video phone remains an emblem of the ingenious persistence of scientists and telecom companies. For more similar content,visit our blog at
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  • 1. Video 1956 1956 1957 1968 Now Future The first iteration of the video phone could only transmit still pictures and was exhibited at the Institute of Radio Engineers in 1956. One of the major goals of research and development was to create a practical method of transmitting video over existing telephone copper wires. By 1957, scientists were already transmitting video and were determining which video standards to use (such as specifying which resolution and contrast settings to use) to begin creating a video/telephone prototype. Today’s online applications make it easy for us to carry out video chat sessions and video conferences. Phone The final “Picturephone System” included a monitor that contained a camera, a receiver, and a loud- speaker as well as a telephone unit that controlled the video-set. The unit debuted in New York’s 1964 World’s Fair, along with the first color television set and the unveiling of the World Trade Center. After several public trial runs, the unit received its final iteration as Mod II. Unfortunately, the high cost deterred customers from adopting the video phone units. Subscriptions cost about $169 a month, the equivalent of $1000 after adjusting for inflation. Between 1973 and 1977, customers dwindled from 100 subscribers to just nine. As wearable technology becomes more popular, today’s depictions of future communication gadgets replicate many of the same features that mobile-computers have, but with the added advantage of sporting holographic screens, such as this concept iWatch. The Forgotten History of Video Communication The 1956 magazine article “Your Telephone of the Future” accu- rately forecasts that future phone would support “...Direct Touchtone Dialing, ...Audio/Video data com- pression, Voice Recognition and rampant miniaturization.” 1964
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