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.)

Victorian Sci-Fi

The Prototype Era

AT&T began experimenting with a video telephone as early as 1927. Its famous Bell Laboratories developed the 1956 "Picture-Phone" prototype seen in the upper left. It transmitted pictures in trials from New York to Los Angeles, sending out one b&w picture every two seconds. It required a line for video reception, one for video transmission, and one for audio. At the lower left is a "picture phone" prototype at Bell Labs circa 1961. The camera is the circle to the left of the screen.

Right: The U.S. Army Signal Corps at Fort Monmouth, N.J. developed this "television phone booth" in 1951.

Photos: Popular Science/Time

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