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Home Blog The Evolution of Conference Meetings

The Evolution of Conference Meetings

The Evolution of Conference Meetings

Since the beginning of social civilization, people have held meetings in some form or another. One could argue the first “meetings” took place around a campfire, discussing plans to hunt for food or how to create a wheel. In today’s world, we can use video conferencing to see a doctor, take a class, or talk to family and friends. The list goes on and on. However, the technology behind modern-day video conferencing took decades to develop. Here is an interesting history timeline about this form of communication. 

  • 1870 - 1927
    The first video conference technology dates back to the audio wires of the 1870s and Bell Lab's video phone in 1927. 
  • The 1930s
    The word “video” was coined in 1935. Before that, there was no standard term for “video telephone.” Phrases like, “video radio” and “sight-sound television system” were used instead. (“Videophone” slowly entered general usage after 1950).
  • The 1950s – 1960s
    Early in 1956, AT&T started the research for a Picturephone prototype which was able to transmit images (1 frame/2 seconds) over analog PSTN (public switched telephone network) telephone lines. Finally, in 1964, the company first introduced Picturephone at the World’s Fair held in New York, which demonstrated how a person could communicate on a “video call” with another person on the other end. From a booth set up in Grand Central Terminal, a person could talk to a friend in Chicago or Washington while also seeing them on a small video screen! The friend would also have to go to a special booth in those cities to take the call.
  • The 1970s
    In the early 1970s, AT&T began using video conferencing for its Picturephone service. However, this new communication means was too costly to be reached by most people. Also, the equipment was bulky and difficult to use. More importantly, the photo was extremely small and blurred. 
  • The 1980s
    In 1982, Compression Labs released the first video conferencing system, which was huge and expensive. However, it was the only video conferencing system available until 1986 when the company PictureTel hit the market with its much cheaper video conferencing system. 
  • The 1990s
    In 1991, PictureTel collaborated with IBM to introduce the first PC-based video conferencing system with relatively reduced costs. Since then, a new chapter in the video conferencing industry had begun. Unluckily, at the stage, a well-equipped conference room was required and its rent was overpriced. In 1992, Macintosh released CU-SeeMe, a video conferencing software for the personal computer. The first version had no audio, but it was the best video system at that time. The system increased multipoint capability in 1993 and audio transmission in 1994. But it was only limited to Mac users. Until 1995, the new CU-SeeMe was released after so many reversions by developers, which was compatible with Windows (Windows was the most popular operating system at that time). By then, video conferencing was available to almost anyone with a PC. 
  • The 2000s 
    During the 2000s, video conferencing became available for free through Internet services such as Skype and iChat. In 2000, Samsung launched the first MPEG-4 streaming 3G video cellphone. In the same year, International Telecommunications Union - Telecommunication (ITU-T) released standards for equipment, computers, and services for multimedia communication across networks and specified transmission protocols for real-time video, audio, and data details. In 2005, Lifesize introduced the first HD video conferencing system. Other technologies and applications also entered into a flourishing stage, such as the application of SIP protocol, private protocols from software-based video conferencing vendors, and the appearance of video compression standards. Whew! Now there is some mighty techy stuff!
  • Present
    Today, there are several video conferencing systems and solutions in the market. Some video conferencing solution providers have put video conferencing to the Cloud, which makes video conferencing cheaper and convenient. This is also a new trend of video conferencing in the future. By using video conferencing services, businesses, and users across the world can easily start or join a video meeting face-to-face anytime anywhere on a desktop or their mobile device such as a laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

As you can see, video conferencing has come a long way! It certainly isn’t a trend that’s going to fade anytime soon. In fact, you now have the option to virtually meet with our staff experts at First Citizens! Would you like to visit with our knowledgeable staff one-on-one about a product or service that is lending, wealth management, or retail related? We are happy to meet face-to-virtual-face with you! Click here to learn more about virtual meetings with us, setup requirements, and meeting tips.

References: PictureTel Corp. HistoryVideophonePicturephoneA Brief History of Video Conferencing from 1964 to 2017



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