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What is a Videoconference?

A videoconference is communication between two or more endpoints in which users can both see and hear one another. Videoconferencing is the active and successful use of videoconference systems to meet, see and hear people and/or content between multiple locations.

Modern videoconferencing was originally launched by AT&T at the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York. At that fair, AT&T introduced the Picturephone, the first commercially available videoconferencing system.

Over the following 25 years, AT&T and other companies introduced a number of products that enabled video conferencing; however advances in networking technologies (from fixed line T1 dedicated networks, to ISDN and IP networking) have provided the most profound catalyst to growth in videoconferencing products and use.

In mid to late 1980's, there were three leading video conferencing manufacturers in North America: PictureTel, Inc., Compression Labs, Inc. (CLI) and VTel. Most of their products connected to network lines through an extravagant series of cables and serial connections. Videoconference sessions were often made by arrangement with the phone company who would map the appropriate network connection between meeting sites.

Within 10 years, a number of other companies including several outside the U.S. began manufacturing videoconference products. Meanwhile, dedicated networks gave way to non-dedicated switched networks such as ISDN and packet based IP networks. These advances greatly simplified network connections.

Even, Intel developed a videoconferencing system it called ProShare that briefly gained notoriety when it flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor in September, 1995 enabling astronauts to videoconference with their earth bound counterparts. All of these factors contributed to advancing adoption of videoconference equipment and videoconferencing as a means of communication.

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