April 1, 2011 Leave a comment
Videophone is a telephone  with a video screen, and is capable of full duplex (bi-directional) video and audio transmissions for communication between people in real-time. It is the earliest form of videotelephony.

At the dawn of the technology, videotelephony also included image phones which would exchange still images between units every few seconds over conventional POTS-type telephone lines, essentially the same as slow scan TV systems.

Currently videophones are particularly useful to the deaf and speech-impaired who can use them with sign language and with a video relay service, and also to those with mobility issues or those who are located in distant places and are in need of telemedical or tele-educational services.

The world's first public video telephone service was developed by Dr. Georg Schubert and opened by the German  Reichspost  in 1936 using square displays of 8 inches (20 cm),  but which quickly closed in 1940 due to the WWII. In that service trial, video telephone lines linked Berlin to Nuremberg, Munich, and Hamburg, with terminals integrated within public telephone booths and transmitting at the same resolution as the first German TV sets, at 440 lines. The service was offered to the general public who had to simultaneously visit special post office videotelephone booths in their respective cities, but at the same time also had Nazi political and propagandistic  overtones similar to the broadcasting of the 1936 Olympic Games  in Berlin.

The Deutsche Bundespost postal service would later develop and deploy its BIGFON video telephony network from 1981 to 1988, serving several large German cities.

Bildtelefon T-View Videophone

Videophones in popular culture
  • In many science fiction movies and TV programs that are set in the future, videophones are used as a primary method of communication. One of the first movies where a videophone was used was Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Other famous examples of videophones include 2001: A Space Odyssey, Space: 1999, Star Trek, Total Recall, and Blade Runner. Of particular note, the videophone was a staple, everyday technology in the futuristic Hanna Barbera cartoon The Jetsons.
  • In science fiction literature, other names variously used for videophone include vidphone, visiphone, and viewphone.
  • A videophone was featured in the 1944 Warner Bros. cartoon, "Plane Daffy", in which the female spy Hatta Mari used a videophone to communicate with Adolf Hitler.
  • In the British cartoon DangerMouse, where the title character regularly communicated with headquarters via videophones from both his home and his car.
  • A device with the same functionality has been used by the comic strip character Dick Tracy since 1964. Called the "2-Way Wrist TV", the fictional detective often used the phone to communicate with police headquarters.
  • AT&T's VideoPhone 2500 prototypes are visible in the movie Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
  • In the animated television program Futurama, the videophone is often used within the delivery service spaceship.
  • Videophones are occasionally used in the Pokémon anime.
  • A "Picturephone" is used in The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Wedding".
  • The singer Beyoncé Knowles released a single called Video Phone from her 2008 album "I am... Sasha Fierce"
  • Popular U.S. TV talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey incorporated videotelephony into her TV program on a regular basis from May 21, 2009, with an initial episode called "Where the Skype Are You?", as part of a marketing agreement with the Internet telecommunication company Skype.
Video Call

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