Just about every vision of the future for the past 100 years has prominently featured video chat, but the prospect has generally been met with tepid enthusiasm at best. The future was here in 1970 when AT&T rolled out the commercial availability of its Picturephone product. Ma Bell proudly assumed that there would be hundreds of thousands of videophones installed across the U.S. within five years, but by 1975 there were only a few hundred. Cost no doubt had a lot to do with it: service was $160 a month — the equivalent of $947 in 2015 dollars — and that only got you 30 minutes of video chat.

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