For many people, their first experience of using video calls is likely to be on a computer, using a webcam, either a laptop built-in camera or a separate device connected to a desktop,media Techspot reported. Even so, video calling was not mainstream until it became the standard configuration for smartphones. One of the earliest examples of successful, large-scale rollouts was the launch of the iPhone 4 in mid-2010. It’s been 50 years since the world’s first commercial video conferencing phone came along.
On June 30, 1970, Alcoa CEO John Harper and Pittsburgh Mayor Peter Flaherty participated in the first commercial video conference video conference using the new Picturephone Mod II. A day later, the subscription-based service was officially launched at eight companies in the Pittsburgh area. New York City was supposed to be another start-up city, but because of a network flaw, the city had to pull out, and Pittsburgh was the only start-up city.
As you can imagine, running video conferencing services in 1970 was not cheap. In addition to the $150 installation fee, customers pay $160 (about $1,057) a month for a 30-minute video call. For half an hour, it will be billed at $0.25 per minute (about $1.60 today).
Unsurprisingly, The Picturephone Mod II did not achieve an overwhelming success because of its high cost and low adoption rate.
Video calling systems have been slow to develop over the next few decades, and it wasn’t until the last 15-20 years that they really did. Today, almost every smartphone has a front-facing camera that makes video calls over Wi-Fi or cellular networks.