Monday, June 4, 2007

Television-Phone Unveiled (1955)

The August 25, 1955 Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) ran a story titled, "Television-Phone Unveiled But Caution Warned on Use." Oddly enough, they never explain the "caution" part of the headline. Below is an excerpt from the story.

The television-telephone was unveiled to the world here today.

This is the one you don't answer while in the bathtub.

Called the "videophone" or 'TV-telephone," the device gives you a 10-inch screen view of the person you're calling the instant the other party picks up his receiver.

You see her - and she sees you - until someone hangs up.

While a curious group of reporters in the Fairmont Hotel watched, Noel E. Porter, an electronics executive, dialed a conventional telephone equipped with a pair of television screens. A small camera focused on him.

A mile away in the Civic Auditorium San Francisco's Mayor Elmer Robinson picked up the receiver of an identical unit. His image flashed onto the 10-inch screen in the Fairmont and Porter's appeared on Robinson's screen.

"This is an instance where seeing is believing," Robinson punned.

The videophone, jointly developed by Kay Lab of San Diego, Calif., and Bell Telephone laboratories, is expected to get its first practical application in industry.

But its optimistic producers anticipate it will be as much a part of the American home scene as the telephone and the TV set someday.

See also:
Governor Knight and the Videophone (Oakland Tribune, 1955)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (1993)
Face-to-Face Telephones on the Way (New York Times, 1968)


Anonymous said...

Presumably, the cautionary part of the headline refers to answering the phone while in the bathtub.

Anonymous said...

Yes, because the video-phone draws AC power. A regular phone does not.

But still, you're correct in that they don't make this explicitly clear.

Anonymous said...

Uh, no... because if you answer it in the bathtub, *people will see that you're naked*!