Videophones: they're the future, you know"&brkbar;

Telecom Asia staff writer
13 Jul 2006

Backpage Briefing is a sucker for retrotech, especially when it comes to futuretech predicted 30 or 40 years ago with the same seriousness we hear about now regarding, say, PANs and wearable computers. One gem - found via Modern Mechanix, a blog that posts ads and articles from old science and tech magazines - is a 50-year-old ad from Hughes for its amazing new product: the tonotron.

'The remarkable new Hughes tonotron - now used for high-fidelity transmission of maps and other navigational pictures to ships and aircraft - will make possible 'face-to-face' telephone calls to and from your office or home,' says the ad copy, which appeared in the August 1956 issue of Scientific American.

That's right - Hughes was pitching video phones in 1956. With rotary dials.

The ad also says that electronics research will 'bring about the dynamic electronics era - in which you will have on-the-wall television, electronic control of factory production, and countless other marvels.' Which is pretty close.

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