The Digital Era & the Attempts to Reinvent Video Conferencing
After the emergence of digital telephone networks in 1980, video conferencing development and use accelerated. It seemed that the right moment had come, and AT&T decided to take a swing at redemption. In 1982, AT&T launched
an incredibly expensive corporate Picturephone Meeting Service. An hour of communication between the offices in New York and Los Angeles cost $2,380. Unsurprisingly, the project failed and was shut down just a year after its launch.
The same year Compression Labs commercialized its own video conferencing system. The solution cost $250,000, and an hour of conversation was $1,000. The price also didn’t contribute to wide distribution and the project was soon canceled. There were several other unsuccessful attempts from other companies. However, some success was achieved in 1986 when PictureTel (today’s Polycom) created a relatively inexpensive video conferencing system that cost “only” $80,000, with an hour of communication priced at $100.
Mitsubishi also released a portable, low-resolution video phone in the 1980s. Luma Video Phone cost about $1,500 and was equipped with a black-and-white display and built-in camera, transmitting one frame every three to five seconds.