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Entries in bell telephone (6)

Wednesday
Aug102011

Crossing a telephone with a TV set in 1968

In this most gloriously futuristic year of 2011 we somehow find ourselves awash in videophones. In a way, they snuck up on us. And they most certainly didn't show up in the ways that people had been predicting them for decades. The videophone was to change the way we looked at home schoolingjob interviewsmedical diagnostics, and even dating.

One of my favorite examples of videophone predictions is from the 1993 AT&T concept video, Connections. After getting off a plane and meeting her family, a young woman wants to call her fiancee. But rather than reaching for her mobile phone the second the plane lands, she ventures to find the airport's video-payphones. Video-payphones, indeed!

With Skype, iChat, Google Hangouts, Facebook Video Chat, and Facetime, videophone technology is all around us. But most people rarely see the need. That is to say, it's not important to always see the person you're communicating with. I'll video chat with the odd friend or co-worker on occasion, and it's great to see family back in the Midwest on holidays, but more often than not it simply feels unnecessary, even though the technology is so easy and inexpensive.

The 1968 ad below depends on expensive infrastructure that hindered the widespread, pre-internet adoption of videophone technology. Produced for Western Electric, the ad can be found in the book The Golden Age of Advertising: The 60s.

 

Western Electric is crossing a telephone with a TV set.

What you'll use is called, simply enough, a Picturephone set. Someday it will let you see who you are talking to, and let them see you.

The Picturephone set is just one of the communications of the future Western Electric is working on with Bell Telephone Laboratories. Western Electric builds regular phones and equipment for your Bell telephone company. But we also build for the future.

 

 

Monday
Apr182011

Talking of Tomorrow (1962)

Talking of Tomorrow is a short animated film that was produced for Bell Labs and released in either 1960 or 1962. Directed by Jetsons writer Chuck Couch, the film tells the story of a business executive from the future who works for an "interspace engineering company."

This executive works in a soundproof room attached to his house and doesn't have to worry about commuting or traffic jams -- yet still wears a suit, tie and hat to work. Why dress up if you're working from home? Because, of course, Mr. Future Executive lives in a world of videophones!

Business, school and play in this retrofuturistic utopia all depend on the highly advanced communications technologies brought to you by Bell Telephone Labs. Documents -- or "business materials" as they call them -- are exchanged by "telephonic machines." Lasers transmit phone calls and TV shows from space. Data processing machines... um... process data.

Kids get school help from tutors via videophone, wristwatch radio telephones are all the rage with teenagers, and windowshopping becomes that much easier with picturephone.

The character design of Talking of Tomorrow instantly reminded me of both the Pink Panther shorts as well as the Rocky and Bullwinkle series. Perhaps someone more educated in animation history can scan the credits and tell us where those connections might be. 

NOTE: You can watch the video at the AT&T Archives site, but I didn't like how it looked while embedded, so I ripped my own copy from the DVD set of Invaders from Space and Atomic Rulers.


Sunday
Jan232011

Telephones of Tomorrow (1962)

Brian Horrigan, co-author of the retrofuturism bible Yesterday's Tomorrows, pointed me to this amazing advertisement from Bell Telephone System which appeared in the November, 1962 issue of Boys' Life.

The comic follows "Chip Martin, college reporter" as he learns about the future of the telephone. Shut-in kids of the year 2000 are learning from home via videophone, men have a telephone on their wristwatch, and the housewife need only press a button on her carphone to start dinner at home.

Chip has returned to Bell Telephone Laboratories to learn more about future communications. A lab scientist says...

Today, Chip, we'll look at telephone advances of the more distant future...

Here's an exciting development... the picturephone... a television telephone that will let you see as well as talk to the person you're calling...

And here's how a shut-in youngster in the year 2000 may be instructed at home from a central education center, with the help of a picturephone. 

The housewife of the future, chip, will expect a telephone in her car as standard equipment, from this phone she could automatically start dinner cooking by pressing a button.

And this is "SIBYL," Chip... our computer-like machine that helps us predict the future of communications. Through "SIBYL" we can simulate the action of new devices and services without spending the time and money to build them.

In the more distant future everyone may have a telephone with him wherever he goes.

And even wear it on his wrist.

Yes, and whatever the future holds, we'll constantly try to anticipate changing wants and needs -- so we can be ready to serve the customer of the future with better communications. 

And, better communications will bring people closer together.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Monday
Jan252010

Bell Telephone Labs Picture-Phone (1956)

This story about the Bell Telephone Laboratories picturephone appeared in the August 24, 1956 Hutchinson News-Herald (Hutchinson, KS). The entire article appears below.

Who's calling will be no secret, with help of Picture-Phone demonstrated at electronics convention by Bell Telephone Laboratories. Man using phone sees caller on picture tube, and is photographed himself by TV lens just above it.

1956 Aug 24 Hutchinson News-Herald - Hutchinson KS Paleo-future

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Tuesday
Feb122008

Closer Than We Think! Push-Button Staff Room (1959)


The May 24, 1959 Chicago Tribune ran this Closer Than We Think strip about the war room of the future.

In the event of another war, military actions will be directed from secret, mechanized nerve centers. Ever since 1952, the Signal Corps', "Project Michigan" has aimed at the objective - to develop push-button devices that can give the top planners an immediate grasp of all situations, wherever located.

 

World-wide television (it's possible now, says Bell Telephone Laboratories) will provide two-way communication to battlefields. All conceivable kinds of data - concerning men, supplies, needs - will flash at bullet speed from film cabinets such as those lately installed by Kodak at the Pentagon. The result will be a near-instant analysis of problems, and computer-machine decisions whenever the generals want them!

Next Week: Probing Venus


See also:
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Will War Drive Civilization Underground? (1942)
Our Friend the Atom (Book, 1956)
After the War (1944)
Memory of 'Tomorrow' (New York Times, 1941)
Gigantic Robots to Fight Our Battles (Fresno Bee, 1934)
Pictures Stately Edifices (1923)
Looks for Era of Brotherhood (1923)
Poison War (1981)
Word Origins: Imagineering, continued (1942)
Nazi Paleo-Futurism (1941)
No Shooting War Before Year 2000 (1949)

 

Friday
Nov022007

Discovering the Videophone (1970)


The photo above ran in the August 6, 1970 Daily Courier (Connellsville, PA). The last sentence of the picture's caption appears to believe that the telephone was "discovered" rather than invented. Start digging and you may discover some brand new technology, in your own backyard!

Lee Klingensmith (left), son of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Klingensmith of New Salem Road, and Joseph Lucas (right), son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lucas of New Salem, look at the new videophone on display at the Fayette County Fair.

 

The exhibit is sponsored by Bell Telephone and is entitled "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow". It shows the progress made in communications since the phone was first discovered.


See also:
Tomorrow's TV-Phone (1956)
Television Phone Unveiled (1955)
Futuristic Phone Booth (1958)
Governor Knight and the Videophone (Oakland Tribune, 1955)
Face-to-Face Telephones on the Way (New York Times, 1968)
Picturephone as the perpetual technology of the future
The Future is Now (1955)