I recently started video chatting on occasion with a few online friends, and every time that I do I have flashbacks of seeing the “video phone of the future” at the 1964 World’s Fair in NYC when I was 9. It’s funny to realize that we have that now, and the reality turned out to be so much better – easier, cheaper, much more convenient and far more universally available than anything Ma Bell had in mind.

1964 Bell PicturePhone

1964 Bell PicturePhone

Commercial service started on June 25, 1964 at calling booths in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Interest was lukewarm, at best. For starters, customers needed to schedule their allotted 15 minutes of screen time in advance, which made video chatting nearly as tedious a doctor’s appointment. Only three cities had access to the futuristic telephone, so its reach was pretty limited. Plus, it was also incredibly expensive. A 3-minute video call from New York to Washington, D.C. cost $16, or the equivalent of about $120 today. [Wired]

By the way, if you are one of those people who don’t understand or believe that the Federal Reserve has been swindling us, re-read that last line in the quotation above. It takes $120 today to match the purchasing power of just $16 a lousy 49 years ago. How’s that for debasing the currency?

And that’s just one reason why we still don’t have our flying cars.