History of VideoConferencing

Simple analog videoconferences could be established as early as the invention of the television.
Such videoconferencing systems consisted of two closed-circuit television systems connected via cable. During the first manned space flights, NASA used two radiofrequency (UHF or VHF) links, one in each direction. TV channels routinely use this kind of videoconferencing when reporting from distant locations, for instance. Then mobile links to satellites using special trucks became rather common.
Videoconferencing was first demonstrated in 1968.
This technique was very expensive, though, and could not be used for more mundane applications, such as telemedicine, distance education, business meetings, and so on, particularly in long-distance applications. Attempts at using normal telephony networks to transmit slow-scan video, such as the first systems developed by AT&T, failed mostly due to the poor picture quality and the lack of efficient video compression techniques.
It was only in the 1980s that digital telephony transmission networks became possible, such as ISDN, assuring a minimum bandwidth (usually 128 kilobits/sec) for compressed video and audio transmission.
The first dedicated systems, such as those manufactured by pioneering VTC(Video Tele Conferencing) firms, like PictureTel, started to appear in the market as ISDN networks were expanding throughout the world. Video teleconference systems throughout the 1990's rapidly evolved from highly expensive proprietary equipment, software and network requirements to standards based technology that is readily available to the general public at a reasonable cost.
Finally, in the 1990s, IP (Internet Protocol) based videoconferencing became possible, and more efficient video compression technologies were developed, permitting desktop, or personal computer (PC)-based videoconferencing. In 1992 CU-SeeMe was developed at Cornell by Tim Dorcey et al. VTC arrived to the masses and free services and software, such as NetMeeting, MSN Messenger.
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HEAnet Newsletter August 2014

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