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Entry updated 24 June 2014. Tagged: Theme.

One of the oldest and once most commonly used items of sf Terminology. Early hack writers, casting around for ways of making the future seem more different and exciting than the present, generally hit upon the vidphone before anything else – though Hugo Gernsback in Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 (April 1911-March 1912 Modern Electrics; exp as fixup 1925; rev 1950) called it the Telephot. It was long one of sf's many futuristic Clichés. In the 1979 edition of this encyclopedia it was thought necessary to explain that "A vidphone is like a telephone which transmits pictures as well as sound. (Though expensive, they are now commercially available in the real world.)" Today, desktop and pocket near-equivalents of the vidphone are ubiquitous while the term itself is almost forgotten. [PN/DRL]

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