Bell Telephone’s Picture Phone

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I well remember the marketing for Ma Bell’s Picture Phone. It was a remarkable piece of technology, to talk to someone and see them as if they were in the room! Except that they were in black and white, and on a five-inch screen. But to actually have such a conversation, both parties had to pay for the service, which was so expensive that one of you could just get on a plane every once in a while and visit.

We were told that someday this would be universal, but who wants to answer the phone and have just any old person see what you look like first thing in the morning? We made jokes about having to comb our hair before we answered the phone. Remember, there was no caller ID widely available, so you did not know who was calling. The Picture Phone was not a success, to the surprise of no one at all. Bill Hammack, the Engineer Guy, tells us the story of the Picture Phone. -via mental_floss


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