The Failure of Bell Labs' PicturePhone
From University of Illinois' Bill Hammack, who runs a lovely series telling the stories of great technological failures: "How Bell Telephone's PicturePhone, introduced in 1964, flopped yet nearly catalyzed the internet. Technically, it was an amazing achievement: Bell used the existing twisted-pair copper wire of the telephone network--not broadband lines like today--to produce black and white video on a screen about five inches square." I love the story of the PicturePhone, and Bell Labs' $500 million investment for a device that eventually service fewer than 100 customers. I downloaded this PDF copy of the May/June 1969 issue of Bell Labs' house magazine, Record, which was entirely dedicated to explaining the technology of the PicturePhone. It's a fascinating read. Watch Hammack's other videos about technological failures (including the Dvorak keyboard!) here.