Forbes currently has an extensive examination of the future, with both past and present perspectives, posted online. Neil Steinberg's look at the videophone should be of particular interest to paleo-futurists.
Somehow, these future marvels of the past--food pills, jet packs, flying cars and, yes, video telephones--have an inertia that reality doesn't seem to be able to completely thwart. They manage to be both old and repudiated, yet somehow retain their cachet as attractive potential future wonders. Video phones remain a real possibility--if they wish, people placing phone calls over the Internet can already see each other using Webcams. It's easy to imagine this becoming standard practice.
Or not. Because no matter how cheap and easy pervasive computer technology makes video telephones, they still bump up against one central issue: whether people will want to see and be seen by those they communicate with.
"People did not want to comb their hair to answer the telephone," said Lucky in an interview with Bill Moyers.
Picturephone as the perpetual technology of the future
The Future is Now (1955)
Television Phone Unveiled (1955)
Governor Knight and the Videophone (Oakland Tribune, 1955)
Face-to-Face Telephones on the Way (New York Times, 1968)
Tomorrow's TV-Phone (1956)