Archive | When the videophone aroused the craze

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Archives | When the videophone aroused enthusiasm

Discovery, October 30, 1994

Thirty years ago, the company AT&T launched the VideoPhone 2500, the first analog telephone transmitting both the voice of our interlocutor and his color image. Through our archives, discover different videophone technologies that preceded the Zoom, Skype and FaceTime of this world.

Our archival footage from a 1994 filming of the TV show Découverte shows us this innovation, showcased in an AT&T store in the United States.

The VideoPhone 2500 is a full-size phone with a flip-up panel revealing a small LCD screen and camera lens.

In order to take full advantage of the video functionality it offers, it is often necessary to buy it as a pair. In 1994, it retailed for nearly $1,400, but could also be rented for $30 per month.

AT&T's videophone has the advantage of using the standard electrical outlets in North America and does not require additional wiring to put it into service. It also means that at ten frames per second, the quality of the video transmission can be questionable.

Presentation of the telephone of the future, the video-telephone to journalist Jean Ducharme who is visiting the Telephone Museum in the Bell building.

The desire to develop a telephone allowing us to see our interlocutor dates back to the 1950s, as evidenced by this archive from January 21, 1957.

Visiting the Telephone Museum, journalist Jean Ducharme asks the hostess of the Bell company to present to him the future of telephony for the second half of the 20th century.

The videophone shown to him by the hostess is still at the experimental stage, but we notice that the device has a small screen barely an inch in circumference.

If you don't want to be seen, you can simply place your hand in front of the lens or remove the current, she explains to the journalist.

Report by Paul-Émile Tremblay on the introduction of the videophone in Bell Canada offices.

In the early 1970s, videophone technology really took shape in Canada.

On the show The arrow of timeof September 12, 1971, journalist Paul-Émile Tremblay notes that the videophone is now a familiar reality in some offices of the Bell company, including that of Montreal.

The introduction of the videophone in this workplace is still at the experimental stage, assures Jean de Grandpré, of Bell Canada, who is cautiously considering its commissioning.

Everything seems to indicate that the videophone has reached the operational stage and that it could satisfy the most demanding user, nevertheless observes the journalist.

< p class="e-p">The Bell Canada representative shows him how the videophone works, which he finds particularly useful in meetings that require visual support.

I believe that companies will use it for the transmission of data, graphics, documents that require a verbal explanation, explains Jean de Grandpré. This is the main use of the videophone device in the short term.

Otherwise, the videophone is a specialized device in the same way as a teleprinter, and its operation is based on many adjustments, in particular for the development of the image.

Around 1973-74, videotelephone communication could begin to establish itself in large companies, but not in homes, the Bell Canada representative considers.

Report by Normand Lester on the videophone, fiber optic telephone technology being tested in the city of Biarritz, France.

To At the end of the 1980s, an experiment with a wider audience was attempted in Biarritz, in the south-west of France. A few thousand people are connected to the videophone network, which combines television and telephone.

France hopes to become the world leader in this cutting-edge technology and intends to extend it to its territory by the end of the century, announces host Jean Ducharme at Téléjournal of May 24, 1986.

In his report, journalist Normand Lester introduces us to some users who take part in the experiment and discover the possible uses of the videophone.

People in hospital in particular, such as a mother who shows her newborn to her stepfather, an injured pupil who can attend his lessons from his hospital room or a bedridden senior woman who can maintain eye contact with her loved ones.

The videophone even allows access to fifteen television channels that can be switched to the television in the house, boasts the journalist.

Seven million dollars had to be spent to bring this experimental telecommunications network into service. Rather than using traditional coaxial cabling, the device relies on a new technology: fiber optics. An innovation that makes it uneconomical to install the videophone in a larger number of homes.

There is no doubt that what you see here is in some way the telephone or rather the videophone of the future, concludes all the same journalist Normand Lester in 1986.

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