Being able to see the person on a call is something we now take totally for granted. However, once upon a time, the idea of a “video phone” was pure science fiction. The notion that we could actually SEE the person on the other end of the call was something from The Jetsons, not reality.
The earliest models were insanely expensive, much as were the first PCs. Films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey popularized the concept so much that AT&T spent hundreds of millions of dollars over three decades attempting to develop an economical device for the home consumer. They were unsuccessful and finally abandoned the effort in 1994, leaving the market wide open for others.
Who would have guessed that, just a few years later, quite independently of all of AT&T’s efforts, the “picture phone” would become a reality? It turned out a bit different than AT&T envisioned – where video communication was just an optional function of the new phones. As optimistic as the company was, even they could not have imagined that by 2018 it would be on portable devices in the hands of approximately 2.5 billion people worldwide.
The full story and many more illustrations may be found here.