From the early telephonoscope concept in 1879, which transmitted “light,” or images, accompanied by sound, to Germany’s first commercially available “videotelephony” in the late 1930s, people recognized the value in accompanying audio with images or video.
By the 1970’s, AT&T’s Picturephone technology had pushed the market as far as it could go, evolving from a series of static images generated every few seconds to a “smooth” video stream. Yet further progress seemed stalled as a result of the pipelines—preexisting telephone lines, which could only carry limited amounts of data.
Not only was it limited, but the extreme costs of owning and maintaining such equipment were ghastly, particularly to the budget conscious businesses of the time. As a result, the technology would remain out of reach for most businesses over the next few years.