Video conferencing equipment has evolved through the years from radio-frequency hookups to high-definition Internet connections. Now, video conferencing is accessible to most businesses and works better than ever.

If you have a long history in business, you may have been involved in some early teleconferences or video conferences. Those early connections between two locations are as different from the experience provided by modern video conferencing equipment as a phonograph is from an MP3 player.

Sure, communication happened on those early connections — just as a phonograph somewhat accurately reproduced the sounds of singers and bands — but there were definite quality issues with the equipment and the connection.

Today, video conferencing equipment has evolved beyond where anyone could have predicted just a few years ago. Let’s take a quick look at the past, present and future. You may be surprised just how long video conferencing has been in the works — and just how long it took to develop a method and setup that would actually get the job done.

Like so many other things, modern video conferencing owes a lot to the quality connection between locations provided by the Internet.

History of Video Conferencing

A video conference can be any sort of audio-video connection between multiple locations. It can be as simple as a conversation between two people at two different locations or it can involve a large number of people spread across multiple sites around the world.

Primitive videophone communication has been possible almost as long as television has been in development. But it wasn’t available for widespread use until much later. Still, a video telephone network was available by coax cable in Berlin and other German cities as early as 1936.

When space flight started in the United States, NASA maintained video communication with its space-going vessels using UHF and VHF radio-frequency video links going in each direction. TV stations used comparable videophones when reporting from the field.

Efforts to bring similar technology to business meetings, telemedicine and distance education in the 1950s mostly failed, however, because the picture quality was poor and there was no method of compression available. Additional attempts in the 1970s weren’t successful either, largely because of high costs and the relatively small number of Picturephones in the world.

When digital telephone technology began to develop in the 1980s, videoconferencing stated to become a reality. Still, connections were expensive and quirky. In the 1990s, however, Internet-based video conferencing became a reality and business-to-business usage of soared.

Video Conferencing Equipment Today

Skype and similar services have made video conferencing is available to everyone, but these services provide low-quality connections in many cases, and hookups frequently fail for seconds to minutes at a time.

In 2005, high-definition video conferencing equipment was first demonstrated. When today’s modern cameras and sound equipment are combined with fast, stable connections between locations, near-perfect communication is possible as long as the right pieces of equipment are installed at each location.

It’s hard to imagine what the future could hold because today’s video conferencing equipment is already so advanced. But with each new year and every trade show that occurs, additional refinements are demonstrated.

Today’s video conferencing equipment is just about perfect, however, so it’s a great time to have it installed in your business. It’s a far cry from the low-def, low-quality connections of the past and even miles ahead of what Videophones could do.