At the 1964 New York World’s Fair, AT&T first presented its breakthrough in telecommunications: the PicturePhone. Hailed as a technological marvel, the PicturePhone ended up being what can only be described as a failure—but it was not for lack of trying on AT&T’s part.

At the time, AT&T was not only the biggest company in the world, but it also had enormous research and development capabilities, thanks to its wholly owned subsidiaries, Bell Labs (research) and Western Electric (development/manufacturing). Those two divisions enabled AT&T to create breakthrough products, from the transistor to the touchtone phone, and bring them successfully to market.

The PicturePhone was expected to be no different.

Invented at Bell Labs in 1956, AT&T subjected ...

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