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"The whole problem of energy sources is going to be solved by little solutions, not by some big new piece of technology that does everything. We got into this crisis by believing that we had one big piece of technology that would do everything (oil)."
- Gregory Benford

Video Communicator  
  A device that carried both voice and image, letting the two parties see each other.  

This is a very early reference to this idea.

An electric bell rang.

The woman touched a switch and the music was silent.

"I suppose I must see who it is", she thought, and set her chair in motion. The chair, like the music, was worked by machinery and it rolled her to the other side of the room where the bell still rang importunately.

"Who is it?" she called. Her voice was irritable, for she had been interrupted often since the music began. She knew several thousand people, in certain directions human intercourse had advanced enormously.

But when she listened into the receiver, her white face wrinkled into smiles, and she said:

"Very well. Let us talk, I will isolate myself. I do not expect anything important will happen for the next five minutes-for I can give you fully five minutes, Kuno. Then I must deliver my lecture on “Music during the Australian Period”."

She touched the isolation knob, so that no one else could speak to her. Then she touched the lighting apparatus, and the little room was plunged into darkness.

"Be quick!" She called, her irritation returning. "Be quick, Kuno; here I am in the dark wasting my time."

But it was fully fifteen seconds before the round plate that she held in her hands began to glow. A faint blue light shot across it, darkening to purple, and presently she could see the image of her son, who lived on the other side of the earth, and he could see her.

"Kuno, how slow you are."

He smiled gravely.

From The Machine Stops, by E.M. Forster.
Published by Oxford and Cambridge Review in 1909
Additional resources -

Compare this presentation of the idea with the telephot from Hugo Gernsback's Ralph 124c 41 +, published two years later in 1911.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Machine Stops
  More Ideas and Technology by E.M. Forster
  Tech news articles related to The Machine Stops
  Tech news articles related to works by E.M. Forster

Video Communicator-related news articles:
  - HDTV Videophone From LG And Panasonic

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