Inventions in Communications Inventions in Communications

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j) The picturephone fiasco

j) The picturephone fiasco

25.03.2019

 

After years of development at AT&T, commercial picturephone service debuted in 1970 in Pittsburgh and AT&T's executives predicted a million units in use by 1980. As it turn out, though, people did not like picturephone. No matter how much AT&T tried, it was one of the biggest flops in communication technology history. Fewer than 500 people had signed up by the time the plug was pulled in 1974 at a loss of $1 Billion. What happened? Part of the reason was the high cost given how little the images seem to add to the communication. Also, there was the problem of how you use a picturephone when you are one of the few people to have one. Often, people simply did not want that much intimate contact. It is only now, with improvements in speed, resolution, miniaturization, and the advent of another piece of equipment, the computer, that the promise of personal video communication is being fulfilled.

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