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Picturephone System to Debut Next Month

May 11, 1964 - The Bell System asked the U.S. Government today to approve rates for a new see-as-you-talk Picturephone system between public locations in three cities.

Bell told the Federal Communications Commission it hoped to open the service next month between New York, Chicago, and Washington.

Where it now costs $1.35 to talk for three minutes between Washington and Chicago, the proposed rate for Picturephone service will be $21. The Chicago-New York proposed rate is $27, and the Washington-New York rate is $16.

Public locations for the Picturephone will be in Washington’s National Geographic Society Building, New York’s Grand Central Terminal, and Chicago’s Prudential Insurance Building.

Bell said customers must make advance arrangements. Both parties must be in their booths ahead of time for instruction.

Both sit about 3 feet in front of a small desk set with a camera lens and a small screen for projection of the picture. There is no cameraman.

Each can view his own image and then decide whether or not he wants it transmitted. If he does not, he presses a button that cancels the image transmission.

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