The Videophone as Imagined In 1910 Still Had Dancing Webcam Girls

Illustration for article titled The Videophone as Imagined In 1910 Still Had Dancing Webcam Girls

I'm ashamed to admit I was surprised someone had the videophone figured out as early as 1910. I also need to apologize to that old crazy guy in the park—your Prohibition-era webcam stories may have been true after all!

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OK, it's a sketch of a concept for what the French thought videotelephony would look like in 2000, not a working videophone, but still it shows people were thinking big at the time.

In fact, even earlier in 1878 a wily inventor named George du Maurier actually published a conceptual upgrade to the era's "speaking tubes" using this drawing below, which depicts a "viewing display" to go along with that generation's literal series of tubes.

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Illustration for article titled The Videophone as Imagined In 1910 Still Had Dancing Webcam Girls

Only in 1927, with the help of IBM, would the traditionally accepted view of a "videophone" come to pass. The screen displayed at brisk 18fps and was run using one those room-sized computers (Ed. Note: as correctly stated in the comments, this was not necessarily a "computer" but a half-room full of necessary equipment for the broadcast). The video was one-way, but the audio allowed then Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover, seated in D.C., to speak with an audience in New York City. [Wikipedia - Thanks, Blam!]

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[www.terramedia.co.uk]

March 1 First public videophone service is opened in Germany by non-Nazi Postminister Baron von Eltz-Rubenach at the start of the Leipzig Trade Fair. In Leipzig call booths are located at the fair ground and at the main post office in Augustplatz, in Berlin—160 km away—at Kolumbus Haus in Potsdamer Platz and at the corner of Hardenberg and Kantstrasse. The 180-line mechanical system uses equipment made by Fernseh at the Leipzig end and by the Post Office Laboratory in Berlin. It is available (to Aryans only) between 08:00 and 20:00 each day, a three-minute call on the service costing DM 3.50 (3s 6d=17½p). It continues after the fair closes on 7 March.