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Western Electric Picturephone Evolution

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©2005-15 paulf.  All rights reserved.
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1927 picturephone - Hoover

1927 picturephone - AT&T

BLR, Oct 1968, p283.

The first public demonstration of television as an adjunct to the telephone
took place on April 7, 1927 when Herbert Hoover, then Secretary
of Commerce, and other officials in Washington, D. C., spoke "face-toface"
with WalterS. Gifford, President of AT&T, and other Bell System
officials at Bell Laboratories in New York City.
Two-way TV in 1930

Bell Telephone Laboratories conducted experiments with "Two-way Television" culminating with a demonstration on April 9, 1930.

A "phone call" was held between the 195 Broadway headquarters and the BTL facility at 463 West Street in New York City, as representatives of the press looked on.  Signals were sent over normal phone wiring, suggesting that distance was not a limiting factor.

It was noted that while interesting, commercial prospects were "uncertain." 

Behind each booth was a room full of complex electrical and mechanical equipment, including water cooled neon receiving tubes, rotating scanning disks and racks of gear.  The bandwidth required for thousands of stations was well beyond the capacity of existing exchanges.

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(Photo from The Northwestern Bell, May 1930.)
Picturephone concept 1956 1956 Experiments

Concept from Pacific Telephone Magazine, 12/56

"Scientists and engineers at the Laboratories have used an experimental 'Picture-phone' system to transmit recognizable pictures over short and long distances, even as far as from New York to Los Angeles.

Experimental pictures vary in size from one by one and a half inches to two by three inches..."

Uses a WE 592 speakerphone (see photo)
1956 picturephone
Bell Laboratories Record, Sept, 1956, p. 334
Alternate packaging   BLR, Sept. 1956, p. 335
Desk with compact viewer
Popular Mechanics, Oct. 1956
Small Viewer   BLR, Oct. 1956, p. 285
1957 Experiment
1957 Experiment

Picture quality standards were established in preparation for field trials.

BLR, Oct. 1968, p. 285
WE Picturephone concept 1959 1959

Concept from Southwest Telephone News, 1/59

1960 Detroit News article     1960 Detroit News Article
"A Peek at the Picture Phone," Detroit News Article, Feb. 7, 1960
1961 Experiment

LIFE, Sept. 29, 1961
Picturephone concept

"Vista Phone" Video phone concept

From a photo used in the October 1963 issue of Western Electric News Features.

(Courtesy of Wayne Merit)
Wall picturephone concept
ca. 1964

Wall panel picturephone concept model.

Packaged in a briefcase for the travelling pitchmaster.

(Photo courtesy of Rick Walsh)
WE Picturephone 1966

Picturephone - Mod I

From Bell Telephone Magazine, Spring 1966
WE Picturephone 1969

Picturephone - Mod II

From Bell Labs Record, May/June, 1969

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©2005-15 paulf.  All rights reserved.