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Entries in picturephone (58)


Picturephone as the perpetual technology of the future

As a follow-up to Wednesday's post about the Picturephone, I encourage you to read Frederic D. Schwarz's piece in Invention & Technology magazine.

"Unlike car phones, Picturephone never had long lists of people waiting to sign up. And periodic attempts to revive the concept with modern technology have never taken off. AT&T's color VideoPhone flopped in 1992, as did a wireless version launched in 2000. Even today, with transmission of voice and images over the Internet becoming routine, services that combine the two, while popular among homesick expatriates in Silicon Valley, remain a niche product at best."

"Most people simply don't want to see or be seen by the person they're talking to...."


Face-to-Face Telephones on the Way (New York Times, 1968)

This New York Times article from 1968 quotes the chairman of AT&T and his expectations about the future of Picturephones.

"'I think for example that Picturephone service will be in very considerable use within less than ten years,' Mr. Romnes said. 'By this I mean person-to-person connections, over a switched network and similar connections between people and computers, with the output of the computers shown on the Picturephone screen.'"

Picture-phones have been the promise of many generations now. (As we saw with the 1993 AT&T ads from last week.) When it really comes down to it, will the picture-phone ever seem practical given our mobile lifestyles? Is it time to put the picturephone in the permanent collection of the Paleo-Future Museum?

If you have a TimesSelect subscription you can read the entire article here.

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