Telstra Research Laboratories
VideoPhone - Video (1992)

About the video
TRL Cast
View the GMA video (VidPh_GMACh10.mpg ~51Mb 05:03)
View the ACA video (VidPh_ACACh09.mpg ~43Mb 04:17)
View the Ch9 News video (VidPh_NewsCh09.mpg ~16Mb 01:34)

About the video

Three segments reporting work on the videophone at TRL in 1992. The "launch" featured on "Good Morning Australia", "A Current Affair" and the Channel 9 evening news.

Michael Biggar recalls.....

On GMA: This was genuinely a Melbourne/Sydney link via ISDN; I was in the videoconference centre that we had up in William St. (I think) at the time. The link was patched up in advance and the use of the push-button phone at the start of the segment was faked. It was live to air, though, and we had audio problems with the videoconference unit or ISDN link. I think we ended up using the audio link that the TV crew had, and I was actually using an earplug to hear what the host Tim Webster was saying from Sydney. Tim kept on coming back with questions about how the unit we were demonstrating would be used in people’s houses; I don’t know how many times I explained that this was a business unit. As for the price and availability predictions for the domestic videophone - well, they were probably not too unreasonable; all we lacked was a market that wanted to buy them!

On ACA: It was the media that put the “videophone launch” spin on these interviews. We were just saying that the technology is coming. The ACA interview was filmed at TRL Clayton. I tried several times to provide a simpler and simpler explanation of how the technology worked, but I couldn’t dumb it down enough for the interviewer (Tracey Bowden's) satisfaction. In the end, it was my idea (not theirs) for me to prattle on using technical terms, and for them to give up and turn it off. Don’t know where they dug up the psychologist with the bow tie and opposing view - first time I saw him was when it went to air. The characters appearing at the start of the item (calling from the golf course, from the pub, etc.) were just members of the film crew (cameraman, sound guy, etc.) who had been here filming.

At the time, there was a media frenzy on this topic. Telecom (at the time!) was happy to have the publicity, but we weren’t actually “launching” videophones at all. We just let the media know about some of the emerging technologies as part of our running of a local conference at the time. The media latched onto the videophone and everyone wanted to know about it. I did a series of probably 5 to 8 phone radio interviews all over the country, too.

APOLOGY: For the record, Michael Biggar would like to apologise to everyone, for allowing himself to predict widespread domestic videophone uptake by the mid-90s and for the beard he grew, especially for the media releases. Unfortunately, the beard did not disguise him, as he had intended!

Trevor Long recalls.....

On Ch9 News segment: I was the stunned mullet on the videophone. I was sitting in another room whilst the interview proceeded. Luckily you could not see the bored look on my face due to the crappy video.

TRL Cast

1. Good Morning Australia Ch 10. VidPh_GMACh10.mpg runs just on 5min

0:33 Michael Biggar

2. A Current Affair Ch 9. VidPh_ACACh09.mpg runs just over 4 min

0:12 Michael Biggar

3. Channel 9 News VidPh_NewsCh09.mpg runs just over 1.5 min

0:11 Gwen Cock
0:14 Steve Nason (initially on videophone)
0:19 Andrew Johnson (comes in on videophone)
0:23 John Princen
0:32 Trevor Long (on videophone)

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Last Updated: 4 June 2002