Retro Tech

Video Calls on a 56K Modem

The Amstrad E3 brought video calling to households before they even had broadband

Retro Alex

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Amstrad E3

The Amstrad E3 from 2004 attempted to bring video calls to the UK via a 56Kbps modem. Plus, it could play ZX Spectrum games.

Both parties needed an E3 in order to place the IP-based video calls over the modem.

Amstrad sold these devices at £99, which was a loss for the company. Instead, they charged 50 pence per video call, 15 pence per session for email access, and 5 pence per minute for web use to browse a limited selection of websites.

If you manage to buy one of these today, they’ll arrive dead on arrival as the service shutdown in 2011, when it still had an active user base of 150,000 customers.