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Rhymes of History

July 14, 2010

Rhymes of history are indicative of those technologies that are fresh emergences resulting from the impact felt many years before from another technology (Thornburg, 2009a). I see audiovisual communication devices as clear examples of the innovations as rhymes of history.

We are all familiar with the telephone as much as we are with the television set. The images of individuals and groups—regardless of culture and social status—can identify these two technological devices. A few years after the patent for the telephone in the United States, pioneers in the field of communication described a concept of a combined videophone/widescreen television called a telephonoscope (image on the left). Engineers saw the merging of audio and video into one single unit. A few of them conceptualized audio as the driving force for visual communications while others considered video as the predominant medium that needed associated audio. What intrigued early developers was audio and video communication each of which a pair of individuals could manipulate.

In keeping with Kelly’s concepts of embodiment, restructuring, and codependency, the videophone became the buzzword in terms of audiovisual communication that was private, secure, and simple to use. The picturephone became the world’s first commercial videophone produced in volume and described by a detailed article in Bell Lab’s Record of 1969.

Today the widest deployment of videophones is by mobile devices. Today’s IP-based desktop communication devices (Nortel’s model 1535 – image on the right), handheld mobile phones (Sony’s vodaphone), and Skype are examples of rhymes of history. Concepts visualized decades back are emerging afresh in devices that are aesthetically inviting and technologically appealing.


Thornburg, D. (2009a). Evolutionary Technologies. Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved July 7, 2010, from

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Cynthia permalink
    July 15, 2010 10:56 pm


    I enjoyed reading your journey through the history of the telephone/video. It is so amazing how these things came into play many years ago and they are still improving and updating them today. It takes some great minds to anticipate the needs of society many years before the actual implementation of an innovation. I was surprised to see the date the first videophone was introduced. Maybe I have been sheltered and may be considered a “laggard” in some aspects of technology, but I am still getting used to my webcam and I have a basic cell phone that still has applications that I have not checked out yet!

    Cynthia H.

    • edutechtalks permalink*
      July 15, 2010 11:58 pm


      Thanks for your comments.

      Yes, how times have changed. Technology whizzes by and leaves us gasping for breath. Barely do we get used to one innovation when the next comes along and we are caught in the transition that sometimes is the most trying expeprience. I think we need to use technology only if it helps students and teachers meet specific learning objectives.


      • Charlotte Vaughn permalink
        July 17, 2010 1:47 pm

        I agree with your statement regarding using technologies in the classroom. I think if it is a resource that is beneficial in helping meeting the objectives or goal of a lesson than that technology should be utilizededdd in the classroom. However, I believe many times when new technologies are introduced to school systems there is a push to integrate them into the classroom whether they are beneficial to the lesson objective or not.

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