Monday, August 10, 2015

The 1950s vision of the 'phone of tomorrow'

An article published in 1956 in US magazine, Mechanix Illustrated presented an accurate vision of the "phone of tomorrow". Journalist Robert Beason interviewed Harold Osborne, the retiring chief engineer of American Telephone & Telegraph who predicted quick call connections, lighted keypads and soothing ringtones.

This concept of a mobile phone devised in the 1950s looks like a stopwatch
but includes many features that we take for granted today
Touchtone dialing, video calling, voice recognition and small colour screens capable of being used as tiny televisions, built into compact devices were also discussed.

This is the introduction of Robert Beason's feature, published in Mechanix Illustrated magazine:
'On some night in the future a young man walking along Market Street in San Francisco may suddenly think of a friend in Rome.
'Reaching into his pocket, he will pull out a watch-size disc with a set of buttons on one side. He will punch ten times.
'Turning the device over, he will hear his friend's voice and see his face on a tiny screen, in color and 3-D. At the same moment his friend in Rome will see and hear him. The disc will be a telephone, a miniature model equipped for both audio and video service.'



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