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xl5er

Fantastic, Troubled History of Videophone

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For those who can digest the technical details, here's a paper on the experiments that helped determine the picture size and resolution:

http://doc.telephonecollectors.info/dm/64Apr_BLR_P114_PICTUREPHONE_Service_Experiments.pdf

 

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The videophone always made me wonder if Ma Bell would have better off partnering with someone who already made television sets or acquiring a feature of their display technology. 

For example, the earliest video games had no display technology, they just hooked up to the back of your tv and used the television display.  Could the videophones been adapted to the television (everybody had one), and just have a camera to transmit your video signal.  I think this would make for a smaller electronics package and would eliminate the need for a display (using the tv) and the phone line could run to the living room.  It would be a combo tv/videophone.

Combo units were big then.  Remember the tv/radio/record players consoles with built in speakers that weighed 200 lbs?

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54 minutes ago, sunguar said:

  Could the videophones been adapted to the television (everybody had one), and just have a camera to transmit your video signal.  I think this would make for a smaller electronics package and would eliminate the need for a display (using the tv) and the phone line could run to the living room.  It would be a combo tv/videophone.

Unfortunately, the system would have to run at standard TV resolution and bandwidth (4 MHz, or 4 million cycles per second) to interface with a TV set. This could be accomplished by a video game with a short cable connected to the TV, but not over even a new specially designed Picturephone network. The Picturephone network comtemplated carrying only 1/8 of standard TV bandwidth. Also, at the time, even if you added a low resolution camera to the home set, there was no affordable way to convert the low resolution up to a TV set's scan at the other end, or to digitize the video for transmission. That all would await digital video processing and complex computer chips. It was about 20 years more before such things were possible in expensive special-effects devices for TV studios, and not until the 1990s that it was doable for the home in standard definition TV and then HDTV. 

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