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The future was here

July 26, 2009
tags: ,
coming soon to Netflix

coming soon to Netflix

Time Magazine has been around since the presidency of Calvin Coolidge, but when I saw this article the other day, I initially assumed it was written this week, not in 1951. The language of the article quickly made it obvious that either the author was very old, or the content was. The idea behind the article, though, was way ahead of its time. Much like the technology in a Jules Verne novel, the Phonevision company tried to come up with a way of essentially downloading movies to one’s home TV set, long before the proper technology existed. I’m just amazed that someone first came up with this idea in 1930 – that’s like an intern in Alexander Graham Bell’s office envisioning the iPhone right after they invented the regular phone. Phonevision may have never taken off (rather like the Apple TV) , but it’s pretty cool to know that where there’s a will, there’s eventually a way. As the President of Phonevision rightly suggested: “The theater is moving into the home and nothing can stop it.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ben Plotnick permalink
    July 27, 2009 3:22 am

    Uhhhhh… Never took off? Pay-Per-View has made millions, maybe billions over the years. UFC 100 had something like 1.3 million viewers. Each paying $45 to view it. That’s what I call successful.

    Of course the vast majority of PPV views are for movies and porn. Each costing maybe $3 – $10. And PPV is on its way out. Video On-Demand (VOD), is becoming much more popular and has probably already taken over. Everyone with a set-top box can get VOD content, but also PPV content. And PhoneVision started it all.

    I actually remember back in the early 90’s you had to call in to get PPV movies, and wait for the show to start. Just like PhoneVision.

    But yes, I agree that it is very surprising to see such an early date to the start of a cool technology. It makes you wonder what current research that seems crazy now will actually take off in the future.

  2. July 27, 2009 3:33 am

    Per-Per-View= 80s/90s technology, when there was no longer contention between Hollywood studios and Televisions studios, whereas in the 1950s, even the idea of a movie made for the silver screen on TV was pretty novel. But yeah, Phonevision didn’t really start it all, seeing as it never moved beyond the experimental stage. I guess my point was more that it got us thinking than got us doing.

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