The Evolution of Long-distance Communication

As human endeavors dispersed around the globe, mankind worked to maintain contact and pass on information. The history of communication technology is one of the great stories of technological progress ever accomplished.

Communicating over long distances has been a challenge throughout history. Man has been seeking different ways of doing this since the beginning of time. The transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication began thousands of years ago. Early methods of long-distance communication included runners to carry important messages, smoke signals, chains of searchlights, drums, carrier pigeons, the Pony Express and the telegraph.

Evolution of telecommunications

It was not until the late nineteenth century, however, that man was able to send and retrieve information by less physically limiting ways. In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell ushered in a new era of voice and sound telecommunication with his prototype telephone. The telephone transmitted actual sound messages and made telecommunication immediate.

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” ~ Western Union internal memo, 1876.


When the telephone was originally invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, communication across a phone line was only achievable by short distances and was only used to transmit voice. The technology grew quickly from this point, with inter-city lines being built and telephone exchanges in every major city of the United States by the mid-1880s.

The telephone made it possible to conduct business affairs across large distances, helping to revolutionize the way that business was done in many different industries. From the moment of the first conversation, the need to expand and improve the quantity, quality, and speed of communications led to a series of inventions that affect all aspects of our lives today.

With today’s technology, communications can span the globe and carry voice, data, and video. People from different parts of the world not only correspond very straightforwardly with each other, but they can also share boundless information with each other. While voice continues to be the dominant method of communication, the video conferencing industry is booming partially due to a boost provided by a recessionary economy.

As you can see, every invention in technology didn’t start without room for improvement. This includes the history of video conferencing. The history of video conferencing technology has had many starts, stops and stalls along the way. In 1964, the first video telephone was developed and displayed at the New York State fair, but the technology never found a place in the market.


And the video timeline continues:

In 1976, advancements such as Network Video Protocol and the Packet Video Protocol both helped the maturation of video conferencing but both stayed in the laboratory. And in the 1980’s, digital transmission was available.

In 1992, Radvision launched the industry’s first IP (H.323) to ISDN (H.320) Gateway and in 1993; Radvision was the first to successfully transfer video over an IP network. In 1994, Radvision introduced video gateways between IP and ISDN networks and in 1995; Radvision joins industry giants to initiate VoIP standardization.

1996, Radvision introduces its breakthrough family of IP multi-party video conferencing products and solutions and Radvision releases the H.323 protocol stack in 1997 and captures market share. And in 1999, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) was officially announced and in 2001 Radvision adds full SIP support to all of its products and became the market leader within 12 months.

Radvision successfully deploys collaborative video communication integration with leading Microsoft desktop products and with 3G networks for full enterprise-wide video connectivity in 2003. In 2006 Radvision launches Scopia multimedia platforms as part of it broad strategy for unified communications. And in 2008, Radvision Scopia Desktop HD Video Conferencing system for PCs was launched.

In 2010, Radvision launched first room endpoints the XT1000 and XT1200. And in 2012 Radvision launched the Scopia XT5000 and the XT4200, a mid-range video conferencing system, and XT Meeting Center.

2012 Avaya acquires Radvision.

The history of video conferencing, although always a work in process, illustrates just how far the technology has come since its debut in 1964 at New York’s world fair. It has clearly broken through nearly every roadblock it has faced and is still in a state of growth and transition. New video solutions enable communications between people separated by great distances — and it provides the capability to communicate with the same clarity and purpose as if those people were in the same room.


Building on Avaya’s acquisition of Radvision, Avatel was happy to join the ranks of highly-competent Radvision channel partners authorized to sell Radvision Scopia® video solutions as part of our unified communications offerings.  Avatel was one of 50 hand-picked specialist partners to adopt video via a fast-track authorization scheme, ahead of the authorization program being made available to all Avaya Connect partners. This enables Avatel to expand our capabilities and competencies with a new generation of feature-rich, interoperable and user-friendly video solutions for real-time collaboration.

Avatel offers Radvision telepresence and video conferencing endpoints, Unified Communications and collaboration solutions, and infrastructure equipment. Radvision’s complete solution includes all the components necessary to provide a total video, voice, and data collaboration application. To learn more, contact an Avatel Video Communications Consultant at 866.835.2661.

The business world has revolutionized almost beyond recognition in the past few decades. Advances in communication technology have changed the face and the pace of business. Due to the advancement of communication technology, the globe is absolutely linked together.

While it may be impossible to predict exactly which technology organizations will embrace, it is likely that the trend toward a richer, more synchronous communication medium will continue.

Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP


  1. The XT5000 Bundle offers an excellent value for the Multi-Site Business for Video with full content sharing, presence, and scheduling. Great post, I did not know that those video protocols spanned back to 1976, very interesting. Thank you!

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