History of Video Calls: From Fantasy to Flops to Facetime

A visual history of the science and sci-fi of phone calls you can see. (And, no, it didn't start with The Jetsons.)

The Picturephone I

This Bell System Picturephone premiered with great fanfare at the 1964 World's Fair in New York. Like earlier prototypes, the Picturephone required special wiring to work, so it wasn't compatible with the existing telephone network at large. AT&T did its best to drum up hype for its futuristic phone, even staging a call between Lady Bird Johnson in Washington DC and Bell Labs in NY. This model entered limited commercial service between Washington, New York, and Chicago that year, but failed to take off. At $16-$27 for a three-minute call (that's $112-$189 in 2010 dollars), it's easy to see why.

Photos: AT&T

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