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"You have to budget the number of fuzzy rules you use to control a system. It turns out, you can state the optimality principle in three words: 'patch the bumps.'"
- Bart Kosko

Zoom Call Visaphone System  
  An amazingly early description of a modern zoom call on a big screen monitor.  

ON the 201st day of the year 3214 A.D., the professor of history at the University of Terra, seated himself in front of the Visaphone and prepared to deliver the daily lecture to his class, the members of which resided in different portions of the earth.

The instrument before which he seated himself was very like a great window sash, on account of the fact that there were three or four hundred frosted glass squares visible. In a space at the center, not occupied by any of these glass squares, was a dark oblong area and a ledge holding a piece of chalk. And above this area was a huge brass cylinder toward which the professor directed his subsequent remarks.


(From Visaphone from 'John Jones Dollar' by Harry Stephen Keeler)
(Published in Amazing Stories in 1927)

In order to assure himself that it was time to press the button which would notify the members of the class in history to approach their local Visaphones, the professor withdrew from his vest pocket a small contrivance which he held to his ear... the professor replaced the instrument in his vest pocket and pressed a button at the side of the Visaphone.

As though in answer to the summons, the frosted glass squares began, one by one, to show the faces and shoulders of a peculiar type of young men; young men with great bulging foreheads, bald, toothless, and wearing immense horn spectacles. One square, however, still remained empty. On noticing this, a look of irritation passed over the professor’s countenance. But, upon seeing that every other glass square but this one was filled up, he commenced his talk.

“I am pleased, gentlemen, to see you all posted at your local Visaphones this afternoon...

At this point in the professor’s lecture, the frosted glass square which hitherto had shown no image, now filled up. Sternly he gazed at the head and shoulders that had just appeared.

“B262I172476Male, you are late to class again. What excuse have you to offer today?”

From the hollow cylinder emanated a shrill voice, while the lips of the picture on the glass square moved in unison with the words :

“Professor, you will perceive by consulting your class book, that I have recently taken up my residence near the North Pole. For some reason, wireless communication between the Central Energy Station and all points north of 89 degrees was cut off a while ago, on account of which fact I could not appear in the Visaphone. Hence—”

Technovelgy from John Jones's Dollar, by Harry Stephen Keeler.
Published by Black Cat in 1915
Additional resources -

Not only does the author predict precisely the appearance of a modern-day Zoom call with hundreds of participants, he also predicts problems with it.

This short quote provides the full name:

One of my students informs me that the North Pole region was out of communication with the Visaphone System this morning. Is that statement true?

The telephonoscope from Le Vingtième Siècle (The Twentieth Century), an 1882 novel by Albert Robida, also had some Zoom conferencing capabilities:


(Robida conference call)

"My wife is visiting her aunt in Buda-Pest, my eldest daughter studies at the dental institute in Melbourne, my youngest is a mining engineer in the Urals, my son breeds ostriches in Batavia, my nephew is at his plantations in Batavia, but that doesn't stop us from celebrating Christmas together through the telephonoscope.

As a one-to-many system, compare to the Mirror Grid Multiple-View Surveillance Panel from Wandl, the Invader (1932) by Ray Cummings and the Multi-View Surveillance Display from This Moment of Storm (1966) by Roger Zelazny.

See also the virtual assembly from If The Sun Died (1931) by R.F. Starzl.

As a videocalling system, compare to the detailed article about the telephonoscope from Le Vingtième Siècle (The Twentieth Century) (1882) by Albert Robida, the phonotelephote from In the Year 2889 (1889) by Jules Verne, the telephot from Ralph 124c 41 + (1911) by Hugo Gernsback, the video communicator from The Machine Stops (1909) by E.M. Forster, the videophone from The Golden Girl of Munan (1928) by Harl Vincent, the optophone from Too Many Boards! (1931) by Harl Vincent and the opti-phone from The Impossible World (1939) by Eando Binder.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from John Jones's Dollar
  More Ideas and Technology by Harry Stephen Keeler
  Tech news articles related to John Jones's Dollar
  Tech news articles related to works by Harry Stephen Keeler

Zoom Call Visaphone System-related news articles:
  - Zoom Education Idea Is 100 Years Old

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