Move over, Facetime: We’re calling on a 1987 Mitsubishi VisiTel video phone

March 1988: Ronald Reagan is president, Rick Astley is topping the charts with “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and Popular Science wondered if the Mitsubishi VisiTel would shepherd in a new wave of video phone technology.

Well, as you likely know, the VisiTel didn’t exactly shake up tech history or become a must-have fad gadget of the era. Instead, the device became a small part of a very long history of video phone technology that dates back to the ’70s—the 1870s.

FaceTiming a friend or connecting with work colleagues on Zoom has become part of our everyday lives, but how did we get here? How did we go from a satirical illustration poking fun at Thomas Edison to video chatting with Grandma thousands of miles away? In the latest Popular Science video, we dive deep into the history of video chatting and yes, we acquired a couple Mitsubishi VisiTel devices and tried to use them.

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