Bell Labs was right about so many aspects of video chatting.
They were right that it would a little bit awkward. That it'd provide "an enhanced feeling of proximity and intimacy." That people would use it as a way to get out of tiresome business trip. That, someday, really, we'd all use it.
They were just wrong about how much anyone would be willing to pay for it.
In 2014, video chatting is one of the clearest "hey-it-really-is-the-future" features of day-to-day life. But it was first commercially available 44 years ago, when Bell Labs debuted the private "picturephone" in Pittsburgh in 1970:
That's about $200 today, and it was a little too pricey for an experience that most people found a bit unnerving. People were also, the executive VP of Bell Labs wrote in 1969, "very much concerned how they will appear on the screen of the called party." (There was no tiny picture in the corner for them to check out and adjust to the most flattering angle.) But, still, the company was convinced that businesses would buy the service. In trials, executives even said they would pay "more than $50 monthly for Picturephone service designed to meet their needs."