Video conferencing is the human face of 21st century technology.
It is a visual connection that brings two people, 20 people, or 200 people face-to-face, no matter where they stand on the planet.
As a cold definition, it reads like this: video conferencing is the transmission of real-time audio and visual data between two or more people at two or more locations, through a computer or telephone network.
Basically, wherever there’s a screen, you’ll find video conferencing. And wherever there could be a screen, you’ll soon find video conferencing. And while video conferencing may seem like a very modern invention, people have in fact been experimenting with it for almost 100 years.
The History of Video Conferencing
Video conferencing as we enjoy it today is carried through the internet and telephone networks, but it got its start in television.
The man who first demonstrated a working television, John Logie Baird, also pioneered the first attempts to create a two-way visual medium in the 1920s and ‘30s. Despite his efforts, and those of the German Postal Service which eventually employed him, video conferencing technology of the era never progressed beyond AT&T’s first crude video call between New York and Washington, D.C. in 1927. That call produced little more than a silhouette on even the largest screens.
While AT&T’s Bell Labs experiments peaked with the Mod 1 Picturephone in 1959, the world had to wait five more years before it got a look at what video conferencing could offer at the 1964 World’s Fair. The Picturephone worked by using a camera to take pictures every couple of seconds and then relaying those images over regular phone lines to be displayed on a television screen.
That first Picturephone, however, was doomed to failure with the public due to its expense, as well as people’s hesitation to be seen on camera during a telephone call. While it floundered, the evolution of video conferencing continued away from the public eye.