August 14, 2013 AT 6:44 am

Historical Bell Labs Picturephone Circa 1969

$(Kgrhqf,!N0Fgw-Uodlebrsuctrnjq~~60 57

Historical Bell Labs Picturephone Circa 1969 @ eBay.

The old video lab in Holmdel NJ was being dismantled in 1985.  At the time, I was running noontime seminars centered around Bell Labs history. A colleague asked me if I would like to have one of the picturephones used in the lab: I did, I said. Security checked it our as an obsolete item for me and I stored it in my personal collection of “cool stuff I admired in childhood”.

This is the genuine item the MOD  II picturephone, successor to the one shown at the 1964 Worlds Fair in NYC. A solid 23 lbs of solid state circuitry. The control panel was severed from the body of the phone at the time I received the unit.  Since then it’s been carefully stored for posterity; even so, the plastic casing has aged from an off-white to an ivory. The interior electronics likely have aged as well. The experimental units had a tendency to overheat, as evidenced by the Dymo labeler-embossed tape at the top. 

Whether the unit can be restored to working condition even with BL archive documentation is questionable. However, it still remains a sweet piece of history fit for a museum or discriminating technophile collector.

Bid is currently at $1,900

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