Like so many different aspects of the human experience, technology has changed the way we communicate with one another for the better. From simply using things like a message in a bottle to pigeons to the massive advances of the digital revolution, communicating with humans from all around the planet is easier and more efficient than its ever been before. Need to phone your mom who’s 3000 miles away?
Simply coordinate a time that accommodates both time zones, hit a button, and you’ll be chatting like you’re sitting across from one another in the same room. But it hasn’t always been that way. Communication technologies have come a long way in the past few decades, and the ease at which we can simply hop on a call with our friends and families today hasn’t always been that easy.
Video calling and chatting over VoIP lines like Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams also hasn’t always been available throughout history. The birth of these types of video calling channels coincided with the mobile device and social media boom, which has created the perfect storm in terms of online communication. Let’s explore the history of video calling further.
Humble Beginnings: The Bell Labs
The first ever conception of video conferencing and chatting over a video-type line happened all the way back in the 1800s. That may be difficult to believe, seeing as we only really got good video calling technology in the late 2010s, but a company called Bell Labs Technology was pioneering video chatting way back when.
The way they first got the idea was by experimenting with the transmission of images and audio over the wire. This was the first ever conception, and quite literally a simplified version, of the video calling technology that we use today.
1931: The Birth Of The Two-Way Radio
As kids, most of us had walkie-talkies which allowed one of our friends to go a large distance away, yet still, be able to communicate despite the range. The two-way radio was invented and introduced to the masses back in the early 1930s by a small company at the time known as AT&T – now one of the biggest mass communication enterprises on the entire planet.
Now, some would argue that the introduction of the two-way radio more contributed to the success and evolution of the mobile phone, but this type of communication also had to come first before the creation of any type of video calling. Therefore, it played an important role in the history of the VoIP call, and cannot be ignored during this historical analysis.
The 1960s: PicturePhone Developments
The birth of imaging technology through a digital medium is truly where we can start to see the inception of video chatting. Picturephone technology was introduced in the 1960s by, you guessed it, the communication titans at AT&T.
The company doesn’t get enough credit for the innovative practices that they were partaking in back in the day, despite their absolutely huge modern-day success. The picturephone represented the first time that anybody was able to see an image on a phone at the same time while taking a call.
Now, granted this isn’t true video calling as the image you saw at that time was often a static, still-frame image of the person who may be calling, but it was definitely a step in the right direction for the video chatting revolution.
The 90s Internet Boom
No one can deny that the internet played an extremely important role in everything from shopping to online NZ casino action and of course, video chatting. Without the internet, there can be no video conferencing. The 1990s is when the internet really started to take off and various online forums, chat rooms, and other methods of online communication started to spring up.
People realized that the true potential of the internet was mass connection and communication. Want to ask someone in Japan about the new anime coming out next month, hop on an online forum and send a quick message – it was as simple as that. This form of communication was seized upon by mobile companies and social media enterprises to give us what we have today.
The Present Day
The 2000s is when many tech companies realized the potential of being able to see your partner’s face and movements while on a call. Skype was invented in 2003 by a relatively small group of devs before eBay came in and bought it that same year.
Since then we’ve seen companies like Zoom and Microsoft Teams follow suit, along with many cellular devices having built-in video call technology for their users to enjoy. Video calling is now as big as its ever been, and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.