• United States
Senior Editor

Witness the future: The 1955 Video Phone

Sep 02, 20142 mins

For $5,000: “As simple to operate as today’s dial tone.” Indeed.

The National Archives blog recently featured a pretty cool clip showing one of the first “futuristic” video phones – from 1955, manual rotary dial and all.

 According to the blog:

 “Demonstrated for the first time, the videophone, with two-way picture screens enabling the parties to see, as well as speak to, each other. As simple to operate as today’s dial tone. The videophone included a small screen so that women could ‘primp’ before placing their calls. A mirror would have been less costly and more effective.”

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 The blog notes the mention of “dial tone” – which replaced the need for an operator – which was still a novelty in the early 1950s but by the 196s it had become ubiquitous.

 While the video phone might have had an audience if it had been priced reasonably – “According to the Universal news story, the videophone cost $5000, or about $43,000.00 in today’s dollars,” the blog states.