The history of videotelephony covers the historical development of several technologies which enable the use of live video
in addition to voice telecommunications
. The concept of videotelephony was first popularized in the late 1870s in both the United States and Europe, although the basic sciences to permit its very earliest trials would take nearly a half century to be discovered. This was first embodied in the device which came to be known as the video telephone, or videophone, and it evolved from intensive research and experimentation in several telecommunication fields, notably electrical telegraphy
, and television
The development of the crucial video technology first started in the latter half of the 1920s in the United Kingdom and the United States, spurred notably by John Logie Baird
and AT&T's Bell Labs
. This occurred in part, at least with AT&T, to serve as an adjunct supplementing the use of the telephone. A number of organizations believed that videotelephony would be superior to plain voice communications. However video technology was to be deployed in analog television broadcasting
long before it could become practical—or popular—for videophones.
Videotelephony developed in parallel with conventional voice telephone systems
from the mid-to-late 20th century. Very expensive videoconferencing
systems rapidly evolved throughout the 1980s and 1990s from proprietary equipment, software and network requirements to standards-based technologies that were readily available to the general public at a reasonable cost. Only in the late 20th century with the advent of powerful video codec
s combined with high-speed Internet broadband
service did videotelephony become a practical technology for regular use.
With the rapid improvements and popularity of the Internet, videotelephony has become widespread through the deployment of video-enabled mobile phone
s, plus videoconferencing and computer webcam
s which utilize Internet telephony
. In the upper echelons of government, business and commerce, telepresence technology
, an advanced form of videoconferencing, has helped reduce the need to travel.
Barely two years after the telephone was first patented in the United States in 1876 by Dr. Alexander Graham Bell
, an early concept of a combined videophone and wide-screen television called a ''telephonoscope
'' was conceptualized in the popular periodicals of the day. It was also mentioned in various early science fiction works such as ''Le Vingtième siècle. La vie électrique
'' (The 20th century. The electrical life) and other works written by Albert Robida
, and was also sketched in various cartoons by George du Maurier
as a fictional invention of Thomas Edison
. One such sketch was published on December 9, 1878 in ''Punch'' magazine
The term 'telectroscope
' was also used in 1878 by French writer and publisher Louis Figuier
, to popularize an invention wrongly interpreted as real and incorrectly ascribed to Dr. Bell, possibly after his Volta Laboratory
discreetly deposited a sealed container of a Graphophone phonograph
at the Smithsonian Institution
[Seeing By Electricity](_blank)
, ''The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review'', May 1, 1880, Vol. VIII, No. 174, p. 149.
Written under the pseudonym "Electrician", one article earlier claimed that "an eminent scientist" had invented a device whereby objects or people anywhere in the world "....could be seen anywhere by anybody". The device, among other functions, would allow merchants to transmit pictures of their wares to their customers, and the contents of museum collections to be made available to scholars in distant cities...."
In the era prior to the advent of broadcasting
, electrical "seeing" devices were conceived as adjuncts to the telephone, thus creating the concept of a videophone.
Fraudulent reports of 'amazing' advances in video telephones would be publicized as early as 1880 and would reoccur every few years, such as the episode of 'Dr. Sylvestre' of Paris who claimed in 1902 to have invented a powerful (and inexpensive) video telephone, termed a 'spectograph', the intellectual property rights he believed were worth $5,000,000. After reviewing his claim Dr. Bell denounced the supposed invention as a "fairy tale
", and publicly commented on the charlatans promoting bogus inventions for financial gain or self-promotion.
However Dr. Alexander Graham Bell personally thought that videotelephony was achievable even though his contributions to its advancement were incidental.
Histoire de la television: Les Contributions Indirectes d'Alexandre Graham Bell Au Developpement Des Rescherches Sur La Vision a Distance
, HistTV.free.fr website, March 2, 2003. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
In April 1891, Dr. Bell actually did record conceptual notes on an 'electrical radiophone', which discussed the possibility of "seeing by electricity" using devices that employed tellurium
Bell wrote, decades prior to the invention of the image dissector
Bell went on to later predict that: "...the day would come when the man at the telephone would be able to see the distant person to whom he was speaking."
The discoveries in physics, chemistry and materials science
underlying video technology would not be in place until the mid-1920s, first being utilized in electromechanical television
. More practical 'all-electronic' video and television would not emerge until 1939, but would then suffer several more years of delays before gaining popularity due to the onset and effects of World War II.
The compound name 'videophone' slowly entered into general usage after 1950,
although 'video telephone' likely entered the lexicon earlier after ''video'' was coined in 1935.
Prior to that time there appeared to be no standard terms for 'video telephone', with expressions such as 'sight-sound television system', 'visual radio' and nearly 20 others (in English) being used to describe the marriage of telegraph, telephone, television and radio technologies employed in early experiments.
Among the technological precursors to the videophone were telegraphic image transmitters created by several companies, such as the wirephoto
used by Western Union
, and the ''teleostereograph'' developed by AT&T's Bell Labs
which were forerunners of today's fax (facsimile) machines
. Such early image transmitters were themselves based on previous work by Ernest Hummel and others in the 19th century. By 1927 AT&T had created its earliest electromechanical television-videophone
called the ''ikonophone'' (from Greek: 'image-sound'),
which operated at 18 frames per second and occupied half a room full of equipment cabinets.
An early U.S. test in 1927 had their then-Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover
address an audience in New York City
from Washington, D.C.
; although the audio portion was two-way, the video portion was one-way with only those in New York being able to see Hoover.
By 1930, AT&T's 'two-way television-telephone' system was in full-scale experimental use.
The Bell Labs' Manhattan
facility devoted years of research to it during the 1930s, led by Dr. Herbert Ives
along with his team of more than 200 scientists, engineers and technicians, intending to develop it for both telecommunication and broadcast entertainment purposes.
There were also other public demonstrations of "two-way television-telephone" systems during this period by inventors and entrepreneurs who sought to compete with AT&T, although none appeared capable of dealing with the technical issues of signal compression
that Bell Labs would eventually resolve. Signal compression, and its later sibling data compression
were fundamental to the issue of transmitting the very large bandwidth of low-resolution black and white video through the very limited capacity of low-speed copper PSTN
telephone lines (higher resolution colour videophones would require even far greater capabilities). After the Second World War, Bell Labs resumed its efforts during the 1950s and 1960s, eventually leading to AT&T's Picturephone.
Closed-circuit videophone systems: 1936–1940
In early 1936, the first public video telephone service, Germany's ''Gegensehn-Fernsprechanlagen'' (visual telephone system), was developed by Dr. Georg Schubert
, who headed the development department at the ''Fernseh-AG'', a technical combine for television broadcasting technology.
[A Missing Link in the History of the Videophone](_blank)
Vsee.com blog website, June 21, 2011.
Two closed-circuit televisions
were installed in the German ''Reichspost
'' (post offices) in Berlin
and connected together via a dedicated broadband coaxial cable
to cover the distance of approximately 160 km (100 miles). The system's opening was inaugurated by the Minister of Posts Paul von Eltz-Rübenach
in Berlin on March 1, 1936, who viewed and spoke with Leipzig's chief burgomaster.
Schubert's system was based on Gunter Krawinkel's earlier research of the late-1920s that he displayed at the ''1929 Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin
'' (Berlin International Radio Exposition).
Zworykin, Vladimir Kosma; Ramberg, E.G.; Flory, L.E]
''Television in Science and Industry''
New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1958, pp. 12–13, 254–255. This work in turn cites:
* Electronics magazine. "Picture-Phone TV Gets a Boost", ''Electronics'', Vol. 29, p. 28, September 1956;
* Goebel, G. "Das Fernsehen in Deutschland bis zum Jahre 1945", ''Archiv für das Postund Fernmeldewesen'' (Television in Germany up to the year 1945), Vol. 5, pp. 259–393, 1953;
* Ives, H.E.. "Two-Way Television", Bell Laboratories, ''Bell Laboratories RECORD'', Vol. 8, pp. 399–404, 1930.
Schubet's higher-performance system employed a Nipkow disk flying-spot scanner
for its transmitter (a form of mechanical television
) and a 20 cm (8 inch) cathode ray display tube
with a resolution of 150 lines (180 lines in later versions) running at 25 frames per second.
The World's First Videophone Service: Telepresence 1936 Style
''The Economist'', October 20, 2010.
After a period of experimentation, the system entered public use and was soon extended with another 160 km (100 miles) of coaxial cable from Berlin to Hamburg
, and then in July 1938 from Leipzig to Nuremberg
. Point to point video calling required swapping connections on a telephone switchboard
. The system eventually operated with more than 1,000 km (620 miles) of coaxial cable transmission lines. The videophones were integrated within large public videophone booths, with two booths provided per city. Calls between Berlin and Leipzig cost RM
3½, approximately one sixth of a British pound sterling
, or about one-fifteenth of the average weekly wage.
The video telephone equipment used in Berlin was designed and built by the German Post Office Laboratory. Videophone equipment used in other German cities were developed by Fernseh A.G.
, partly owned by Baird Television Ltd.
of the U.K.,
inventors of the world's first functional television. During its life the German system underwent further development and testing, resulting in higher resolutions and a conversion to an all-electronic camera tube
transmission system to replace its mechanical Nipkow scanning disc
While the system's image quality was primitive by modern standards, it was deemed impressive in contemporary reports of the era, with users able to clearly discern the hands on wristwatches.
The videophones were offered to the general public, which had to visit special post office ''Fernsehsprechstellen'' (video telephone booths, from "''far sight speech place''") simultaneously in their respective cities,
but which at the same time also had Nazi
political and propagandistic
overtones similar to the broadcasting of the 1936 Olympic Games
The German post office announced ambitious plans to extend their public videophone network to Cologne, Frankfurt and Vienna, Austria
, but expansion plans were discontinued in 1939 with the start of the Second World War.
After Germany subsequently became fully engaged in the war its public videophone system was closed in 1940, with its expensive inter-city broadband cables converted to telegraphic message traffic and broadcast television service.
A similar commercial post office system was also created in France during the late-1930s.
The Deutsche Bundespost
postal service would decades later develop and deploy its BIGFON
(Broadband Integrated Glass-Fiber Optical Network) videotelephony
network from 1981 to 1988, serving several large German cities, and also created one of Europe's first public switched broadband services in 1989.
AT&T Picturephone Mod I: 1964–1970
In the United States, AT&T
's Bell Labs
conducted extensive research and development of videophones, eventually leading to public demonstrations of its trademarked "Picturephone" product in the 1960s. Its large Manhattan experimental laboratory
devoted years of technical research during the 1930s, led by Dr. Herbert Ives
along with his team of more than 200 scientists, engineers and technicians.
The Bell Labs early experimental model of 1930 had transmitted uncompressed video
through multiple phone lines, a highly impractical and expensive method unsuitable for commercial use.
During the mid-1950s, its laboratory work had produced another early test prototype capable of transmitting still images every two seconds over regular analog PSTN
BT History: Connecting With The Past: Video Telephony
''New Electronics'', NewElectronics.co.uk website, February 26, 2013, pp. 14-16.
[Journeys Digital Telephony: Video From The Phone: World's First Videophone System (1964): Seeing As Well As Hearing](_blank)
, British Telecom's Connected Earth website. Retrieved from Connected-Earth.com December 18, 2013.
The images were captured by the Picturephone's compact Vidicon
camera and then transferred to a storage tube or magnetic drum for transmission over regular phone lines at two-second intervals to the receiving unit, which displayed them on a small cathode-ray television tube.
AT&T had earlier promoted its experimental video for telephone service at the 1939 New York World's Fair
Future Calling: Videophones in the World of The Jetsons
''Smithsonian'' magazine blog website, January 28, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
The more advanced Picturephone 'Mod I' (Model No. 1) had public evaluation displays at Disneyland
and the 1964 New York World's Fair
, with the first transcontinental videocall between the two venues made on April 20, 1964.
These demonstration units used small oval housings on swivel stands, intended to stand on desks. Similar AT&T Picturephone units were also featured at the Telephone Pavilion
(also called the "Bell Telephone Pavilion") at Expo 67
, an International World's Fair held in Montreal
, Canada in 1967.
Demonstration units were available at the fairs for the public to test, with fairgoers permitted to make videophone calls to volunteer recipients at other locations.
The United States would not see its first public videophone booths until 1964, when AT&T installed their earliest commercial videophone units, the Picturephone "Mod I", in booths that were set up in New York's Grand Central Terminal
, Washington D.C., and Chicago.
The system was the result of decades of research and development at Bell Labs, its principal supplier, Western Electric
, plus other researchers working under contract to the Bell Labs.
Debut Of The Videophone
, AT&T Techchannel website, June 29, 2012. Retrieved from techchannel.att.com on January 3, 2013.
However the use of reservation time slots and their cost of US$16 (Washington, D.C. to New York) to $27 (New York to Chicago) (equivalent to $118 to $200 in 2012 dollars) for a three-minute call at the public videophone booths greatly limited their appeal resulting in their closure by 1968.
First video conferencing service: 1970
AT&T developed a refined Picturephone throughout the late 1960s, resulting in the 'Mod II' (Model No. 2), which served as the basis for AT&T's launch of the first true video conferencing service. Unlike earlier systems, in which people had to visit public videophone booths, any company or individual could pay to be connected to the system, after which they could call anyone in the network from their home or office.
The inaugural video call occurred on June 30, 1970, between Pittsburgh Mayor Peter Flaherty
and Chairman and CEO John Harper of Alcoa
The service officially launched the next day, July 1, 1970, with 38 Picturephones located at eight Pittsburgh companies. Among the first subscribers, Westinghouse Electric Corporation
became Bell's largest Picturephone customer, leasing 12 sets. The following year, Picturephone service expanded to central Chicago and the suburb of Oak Brook, before expanding to other large East Coast cities.
In addition to an installation charge of $150 for the first set, companies paid $160 per month ($947/month in 2012 dollars) for the service on the first set and $50 per month for each additional set. Thirty minutes of video calling was included with each Picturephone, with extra minutes costing 25 cents. AT&T later reduced the price to $75 per month with forty-five minutes of video calling included to stimulate demand.
Picturephone Mod II
The Picturephone's video bandwidth was 1 MHz
with a vertical scan rate
of 30 Hz, horizontal scan rate
of 8 kHz, and about 250 visible scan lines. The equipment included a speakerphone
(hands free telephone), with an added box to control picture transmission. Each Picturephone line used three twisted pair
s of ordinary telephone cable, two pairs for video and one for audio and signaling. Cable amplifiers were spaced about a mile apart (1.6 kilometres) with built-in six-band adjustable equalization
filters. For distances of more than a few miles, the signal was digitized at 2 MHz and 3 bits per sample DPCM
, and transmitted on a T-2 carrier
Color on AT&T's Picturephone was not employed with their early models. These Picturephone units packaged Plumbicon
cameras and small CRT
displays within their housings. The cameras were located atop their screens to help users see eye to eye. Later generation display screens were larger than in the original demonstration units, approximately six inches (15 cm) square in a roughly cubical cabinet.
The original Picturephone system used contemporary crossbar and multi-frequency operation. Lines and trunks were six wire, one pair each way for video and one pair two way for audio. MF address signaling on the audio pair was supplemented by a Video Supervisory Signal (VSS) looping around on the video quad to ensure continuity. More complex protocols were later adopted for conferencing.
To deploy Picturephone service, new wideband crossbar switch
es were designed and installed into the Bell System's 5XB switch
offices, this being the most widespread of the relatively modern kind.
Hundreds of technicians attended schools to learn to operate the Cable Equalizer Test Set and other equipment, and to install Picturephones.
File:AT&T Picturephone - upper RH oblique view.jpg|''AT&T Picturephone'' (Mod II) fully enclosed in its housing, control pad at bottom (courtesy: ''Richard Diehl'')
File:AT&T Picturephone Mod II - right side view with its cover removed.jpg|Right side view, housing removed, one of its printed circuit boards exposed (courtesy: ''Richard Diehl'')
File:MyPicturephone 018.jpg -AT&T Picturephone Mod II - exposed upper-rear view, cover removed .jpg|An exposed view of the Picturephone's rear circuit board (courtesy: ''Richard Diehl'')
AT&T's initial Picturephone 'Mod I' (Model No. 1) and then its upgraded 'Mod II' programs, were a continuation of its many years of prior research during the 1920s, 1930s, late 1940s and 1950s. Both Picturephone programs, like their experimental AT&T predecessors, were researched principally at its Bell Labs
, formally spanned some 15 years and consumed more than US$500 million, eventually meeting with commercial failure.
At the time of its first launch, AT&T foresaw a hundred thousand Picturephones in use across the Bell System by 1975. However, by the end of July 1974, only five Picturephones were being leased in Pittsburgh, and U.S.-wide there were only a few hundred, mostly in Chicago.
Unrelated difficulties at New York Telephone
also slowed AT&T's efforts, and few customers signed up for the service in either city. Customers peaked at 453 in early 1973. AT&T ultimately concluded that its early Picturephones were a "concept looking for a market".
Later development (1990s)
AT&T would later market its VideoPhone 2500 to the general public from 1992 to 1995
[Silberg, Lurie. "''Here's Looking At You! AT&T, Sharp Sign 3-Year Contract To Jointly Develop Videophone Technology''", HFN The Weekly Newspaper For The Home Furnishing Network, February 6, 1995, Vol. 69.6, p. 76. Gale Document No.: GALE|A16415691.]
with prices starting at US$
1,500 (approximately $ in current dollars) and later dropping to $1,000 ($ in current dollars), marketed by its Global VideoPhone Systems unit.
The VideoPhone 2500 was designed to provide low-frame rate compressed color video on ordinary Plain Old Telephone Service
(POTS) lines, circumventing the significantly higher cost ADSL
telephone service lines used by several other videoconferencing manufacturers. It was limited by analog phone line connection speeds of about 19 Kilobits per second, the video portion being 11,200 bit/s, and with a maximum frame rate of 10 frames per second, but typically much slower, as low as a third of a video frame per second. The VideoPhone 2500 used proprietary technology protocols, including AT&T's Global VideoPhone Standard (GVS).
Again, AT&T met with very little commercial success, selling only about 30,000 units, mainly outside the United States.
Despite AT&T's various videophone products meeting with commercial failure, they were widely viewed as technical successes which expanded the limits of the telecommunications sciences in several areas. Its videotelephony programs were critically acclaimed for their technical brilliance and even the novel uses they experimented with. The research and development programs conducted by Bell Labs were highly notable for their beyond-the-state-of-the-art results produced in materials science
, advanced telecommunication
s and information technologies
AT&T's published research additionally helped pave the way for other companies to later enter the field of videoconferencing
. The company's videophones also generated significant media coverage in science journals, the general news media and in popular culture. The image of a futuristiAT&T videophone being casually used
in the science fiction film ''2001: A Space Odyssey''
, became iconic of both the movie and, arguably, the public's general view of the future.
Other early videophones: 1968–1984
Beginning in the late 1960s, several countries worldwide sought to compete with AT&T's advanced development of its Picturephone service in the United States. However such projects were research and capital intensive, and fraught with difficulties in being deployed commercially.
France's post office telecommunications branch had earlier set up a commercial videophone system similar to the German ''Reichspost
'' public videophone system of the late 1930s.
In 1972 the defense and electronics manufacturer Matra
was one of three French companies that sought to develop advanced videophones in the early 1970s, spurred by AT&T's Picturephone in the United States. Initial plans by Matra included the deployment of 25 units to France's Centre national d'études des télécommunications
(CNET of France Télécom
) for their internal use. CNET intended to guide its initial use towards the business sector, to be later followed by personal home usage. Its estimated unit cost in 1971 was the equivalent of £325, with a monthly usage subscription charge of £3.35.
Studies of applications of videotelephony
were conducted by CNET in France in 1972, with its first commercial applications for videophones appearing in 1984. The delay was due to the problem of insufficient bandwidth, with 2 Mb per second being required for transmitting both video and audio signals. The problem was solved worldwide by the creation of software for data encoding and compression via video coding and decoding algorithms
, also known as codecs.
In Sweden, electronics maker Ericsson
began developing a videophone in the mid-1960s, intending to market it to government, institutions, businesses and industry, but not to consumers due to AT&T's lack of success in that market segment. Tests were conducted in Stockholm
, including trial communications in banking. Ultimately Ericsson chose not to proceed with further production.
In 1970 the British General Post Office
had 16 demonstration models of its Viewphone built, meant to be the equivalent to AT&T's Picturephone.
["A Viewphone Service", ''New Scientist'', November 24, 1966, № 440/3.]
Their initial attempt at a first generation commercial videophone later led to the British Telecom
Relate 2000, which was released for sale in 1993, costing between £400-£500 each. The Relate 2000 featured a flip-up colour LCD display screen operating at a nominal rate of 8 video frames per second, which could be depressed to 3-4 frames per second if the PSTN bandwidth was limited. In the era prior to low-cost, high-speed broadband service, its video quality was found to be generally poor by the public with images shifting jerkily between frames, due to British phone lines that generally provided less than 3.4 kHz of bandwidth.
British Telecom had initially expected the device, manufactured by Marconi Electronics
, to sell at a rate of 10,000 per year, but its actual sales were minimal.
[Nuttall, Nick. "Well, Hello, How Nice To See You; Videophones." London, England: ‘’The Times’’, March 26, 1993: 31. Retrieved December 22, 2013.] [BT Relate 2000](_blank)
BritishTelephones.com website. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
Its second generation videophone thus also proved to be commercially unsuccessful,
[Engaging With Communications: History: General Telephones, Computer Networking and Telecommunications Research](_blank)
University of Salford website. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
similar to AT&T's VideoPhone 2500
of the same time period.
Digital videotelephony: 1985–1999
This time period saw the research, development and commercial roll-out of what would become powerful video compression
and decompression software codec
s, which would eventually lead to low cost videotelephony
in the early 2000s.
Practical digital videotelephony was only made possible with advances in video compression
, due to the impractically high bandwidth requirements of uncompressed video
. To achieve Video Graphics Array
(VGA) quality video (480p
resolution and 256 colors
) with raw uncompressed video, it would require a bandwidth of over 92Mbps
The most important compression technique that enabled practical digital videotelephony and videoconferencing is the discrete cosine transform
The DCT, a form of lossy compression
, was proposed in 1972 by Nasir Ahmed
, who developed the algorithm with T. Natarajan and K. R. Rao
at the University of Texas
The DCT algorithm became the basis for the first practical video coding standard
that was useful for videoconferencing, H.261
, standardised by the ITU-T
In Japan the ''Lumaphone'' was developed and marketed by Mitsubishi
in 1985. The project was originally started by the Ataritel division of the Atari Video Game Company
in 1983 under the direction of Atari's Steve Bristow.AtariTel
Atari History Society webpage. Atari then sold its division to Mitsubishi Electric in 1984. The Lumaphone was marketed by Mitsubishi Electric of America in 1986 as the Luma LU-1000, costing US$1,500,
designed with a small black and white video display, approximately in size, and a video camera adjacent to the display which could be blocked with a sliding door for privacy. Although promoted as a 'videophone', it operated similar to Bell Labs' early experimental image transfer phone of 1956, transmitting still images every 3–5 seconds over analog POTS lines. It could also be hooked up to a printer or connected to a regular TV or monitor for improved teleconferencing.
Mitsubishi also marketed its lower-cost VisiTel LU-500 image phone in 1988 costing about US$400, aimed at the consumer market. It came with reduced capabilities but had with a larger black and white display. Other Japanese electronic manufacturers marketed similar image transfer phones during the late-1980s, including Sony's PCT-15 (US$500), and two models from Panasonic, its WG-R2 (US$450) and its KX-TV10 (US$500). [Booth, Stephen A]
Telephony With Pictures
''Popular Mechanics'', February 1988, p. 50.
Much later the Kyocera Corporation, an electronics manufacturer based in Kyoto, conducted a two-year development campaign from 1997 to 1999 that resulted in the release of the VP-210 VisualPhone, the world's first mobile colour videophone that also doubled as a camera phone for still photos.
Telephony With Pictures
''Popular Mechanics'', January 1989, pp. 72–74.
[Kyocera visual phone VP-210, Japan, 1999](_blank)
Science & Society Picture Library, retrieved August 9, 2013.
[First mobile videophone introduced](_blank) The camera phone was the same size as similar contemporary mobile phones, but sported a large camera lens and a 5 cm (2 inch) colour TFT display capable of displaying 65,000 colors, and was able to process two video frames per second. The 155 gram (5.5 oz.) camera could also take 20 photos and convey them by e-mail, with the camera phone retailing at the time for 40,000 yen, about US$325 in 1999.
CNN.com website, May 18, 1999.
The VP-210 was released in May 1999 and used its single front-facing 110,000-pixel camera to send two images per second through Japan's PHS mobile phone network system. Although its frame rate was crude and its memory is considered tiny in the present day, the phone was viewed as "revolutionary" at the time of its release.
Camera phones: A look back and forward
''Computerworld'', May 11, 2012.
The Kyocera project was initiated at their Yokohama research and development center by Kazumi Saburi, one of their section managers. His explanation for the project was "Around that time, cellular handsets with enabled voice and SMS communication capabilities were considered to be just one among many personal communication tools. One day a simple idea hit us - 'What if we were able to enjoy talking with the intended person watching his/her face on the display?' We were certain that such a device would make cell phone communications much more convenient and enjoyable." [Desperately Seeking Saburi: Finding the Camera Phone Creator](_blank)
Saburi also stated that their R&D section had "nourished he ideafor several years before" they received project approval from their top management which had encourage such forward-thinking research, because they "also believed that such a product would improve Kyocera's brand image." Their research showed that a "cell phone with a camera and color display provided a completely new value for users, It could be used as a phone, a camera and a photo album".
TomsGuide.com website, November 18, 2005.
Technical challenges handled by about a dozen engineers at Kyocera over the two year development period included the camera module's placement within the phone at a time when electronic components had not been fully reduced in size, as well as increasing its data transmission rate. After its release the mobile video-camera phone was commercially successful, spawning several other competitors such as the DDI Pocket, and one from Vodafone K.K.
Videophone improvements: post-2000
Significant improvements in video call quality of service for the deaf occurred in the United States in 2003 when Sorenson Media Inc. (formerly Sorenson Vision), a video compression software coding company, developed its VP-100 model stand-alone videophone specifically for the deaf community. It was designed to output its video to the user's television in order to lower the cost of acquisition, and to offer remote control and a powerful video compression codec for unequaled video quality and ease of use with a video relay service (VRS). Favourable reviews quickly led to its popular usage at educational facilities for the deaf, and from there to the greater deaf community.
[Fitzgerald, Thomas J]
Coupled with similar high-quality videophones introduced by other electronics manufacturers, the availability of high speed Internet, and sponsored video relay services authorized by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in 2002, VRS services for the deaf underwent rapid growth in that country.
For the Deaf, Communication Without the Wait
''The New York Times'', December 18, 2003.
* History of mobile phones
* History of radio
* History of telecommunication
* History of the telephone
* History of television
* List of video telecommunication services and product brands
* Timeline of communication technology
* Timeline of the telephone
* Burns, R.W.
''Television: An International History of the Formative Years''
IEE Publication Series, Institution of Electrical Engineers, Science Museum (Great Britain), 1998, ,
* Mulbach, Lothar; Bocker, Martin; Prussog, Angela. "''Telepresence in Videocommunications: A Study on Stereoscopy and Individual Eye Contact''", Human Factors, June 1995, Vol.37, No.2, p. 290, , Gale Document Number: GALE|A18253819. Accessed December 23, 2011 via General Science eCollection (subscription). This study in turn cites:
:* Norby, K. "A Window To The Future: The Videophone Experience In Norway", Kjeller, Norway: Norwegian Telecom Research Department, 1991, pp. 66-77.
History of Television website.
Category:History of telecommunications