Sunday, July 12, 2020

Zooming into the Future, It’s Happening to Us All.

by Pete Fasciano, Executive Director 07/12/2020

The Videophone – Never has a technology been so ignored for so long. One high-tech company after another has tried to enter this seemingly huge unmet market need. Actually, it was met. Many times. Then again, perhaps it wasn’t a need.

The notion of a one-on-one, private video conversation goes back over a century ago.
This depiction about the year 2000 is from a series of illustrations in 1900. This was the year the word ‘television’ was first coined at the Paris Exposition. What do we call the people who use it? Tele-sees? Viseoteers?

The first actual video phone call was a test of long lines technology by the phone company in 1932 between New jersey and New York.

This futuristic video-phone was exactly that – a phone. It had the usual handset to stick their voice into your ear, and a camera/TV to stick their face into your eyes (and vice versa). At $400 a pop in 1960? Umm,-no.

Mind you, this was way back in the rotary dial days. Remember the rotary dial?

One after another company tried – and failed. Why?

Vanity. Simple vanity.

The public wasn’t ready for that intrusion.

Whenever anyone said, “It’s nice to see you.” Steve Allen would reply, “It’s nice to be seen.” While it might be nice to see someone, no none actually wanted to be seen.

“God forbid! My hair! It’s such a mess.”

The videocall – or conference began to gain a bit of traction in the early seventies. (Note that we still have that rotary dial.) Again, vanity played a role. Corporate higher-ups enjoyed that power perk.

Then, two new indispensable devices found their way into our lives: The personal computer and the smartphone (aka, a very personal computer). Add connectivity, and these general-purpose devices could do just about anything. We could process our words, numbers, images – even video. Add software, et voila! Videophone!

Skype, Facetime, Webex, Google Hangouts, Zoom. Now it’s all a simple download. This year was the trigger – the event horizon. Vanities aside, we now needed to connect socially when we could no longer meet and engage in personal interactions. The need finally caught up with the technology.

This week we are installing Zoom capability in Town Chambers. It is one way that these horrific times are making our future a bit better. Having participation in government meetings for those who can’t travel – that’s a win. We are Zooming - into the future.

And – as always – Thank you for listening to wfpr●fm. And, thank you for watching.
Copyright, 2020, FCCA, Inc. & the author. All rights reserved.

Note that we at Franklin TV are holding our own Zoom remote open annual meeting on august 3rd at 7PM. All are welcome to participate and learn about Franklin●TV and Franklin Public Radio, wfpr●fm.

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