About fifty years ago, I made my first picturephone call. My grandmother took me to the Prudential building in downtown Chicago, where Bell had a demo system set up. (You can see a picture of what the Pru looked like then.) I stood in a line until I was able to speak with another kid who had stood in a similar line in New York. There was no cost for this – they could hardly charge you for the privilege of speaking to a stranger for sixty seconds – but if you wanted to, you could arrange your own private call for the astronomical price of nine dollars a minute, plus tax (equivalent to about sixty-eight dollars a minute today).
Thanksgiving morning we spoke with and saw our son in Afghanistan from the comfort of our own home using Viber. The picture broke up a few times, but hey, it was all the way to Afghanistan. It was pretty amazing, although if I had been charged two thousand dollars for the call then I would not have thought it that amazing, rather about what I would expect for $2000. The amazing thing is that I was able to make the call and it was already included in my monthly phone bill.