A Short History of
Believe it or not, the technology was first proposed 100 years ago in 1910 – just 30 years after the invention of the telephone. The idea emerged about the same time as the first talking motion picture was released.
In the 1950s, AT&T began experimenting with video calling. In 1964, AT&T unveiled the Picturephone at the New York World’s Fair. The general public was invited to place calls between special exhibits at Disneyland and the World’s Fair.
Trials went on for six more years. In 1970, commercial Picturephone service debuted in downtown Pittsburgh. While the technology was impressive, the equipment was large, expensive, and provided a very low-resolution image.
In the 1980s, the phone companies began to launch digital services which provided a reliable minimum bit rate for the transmission of compressed video and audio.
In 1984, two students and a professor from MIT founded PictureTel: one of the first companies to develop a commercial product for video calling and invented the basis for modern day video compression – the technology that enables video to be streamed over the internet.
In 1991 researchers at the University of Cambridge Computer Lab invented the “web cam.” Ironically, this first web cam wasn’t used to communicate, but rather to monitor a coffee machine. It seems hot coffee was in short supply at the computer lab and researchers had to travel some distance in search of a good cup.
Often they would arrive only to find faculty members closer to the pot had beaten them to it, wasting time and energy. Some of the researchers salvaged a video camera, an old computer, and a frame grabber left over from other projects.
They set up the camera, pointed it at the coffee pot, and set up the frame grabber to capture images at regular intervals. Any researcher in the group was then able to go online access the images and view the pot status prior to making the trip!
In the late 1990’s web cameras, or “web cams” with audio and video became widely available.
In the 2000s, video calling was popularized by the Skype application which offered low cost, low-quality, video calling to virtually any location with an internet connection.
Since then, Skype has grown to become the largest provider of video software with more than 660 million registered users.
Between 2005 and 2010, several companies launched HD video-calling solutions that can send higher quality 720p HD video including Lifesize Communications, Polycom, and Cisco.
However, all of these products were “closed systems,” meaning that they could only support a video call between two people who had the same product. The value of any of these systems was limited because the remote party had to have the same hardware. To compound the problem, few people owned each type of system, and the hardware was expensive.
In 2010, tech wizards Sreekanth and Sudhakar Ravi, saw an opportunity to create a video- calling device that had all the advantages of previous HD calling systems with the wide availability of Skype.
Tely Labs Inc. was founded with the goal of delivering the benefits of HD video, in the comfort of your living room, at an affordable price. Because telyHD uses Skype, you can connect with anyone, anywhere in the world, on any Skype compatible device.
In the home living room, and the office conference room, Tely Labs revolutionizes how people communicate and relate with each other. Want to hear more? Learn about Tely Labs.