My wife and I made our first Skype video call the other day to see our new grandson Trent. My son and his wife live 250 miles south of us in Hamilton, New Jersey, just outside of Trenton. We drove down to New Jersey the weekend that he was born to meet him in person. It is at least a four hour drive for us, usually longer depending on the amount of traffic.
We can’t make that drive on a regular basis. Seeing and talking to each other on the computer is the next best thing.
The Skype software is free and easy to setup. The call is free too if you are calling another person who is using Skype. See the Skype website for details. You need a computer with a high speed connection to the internet. This won’t work very well if you are still using dial up. A lot of people already have a high speed connection through the cable or phone company. You also need a “webcam” camera that you can connect to your computer. You can get a webcam with a built in microphone for around $50. It costs me more than that just for gasoline when I make the drive to New Jersey.
My nephew set Skype up on his computer for a job interview. The job was several states away and an in person interview would have meant a drive of hundreds of miles or a flight on a plane. The employer suggested the video interview.
As a new grandfather, I can recommend Skype to any parents or grandparents out there who live a distance from their children and grand children and don’t get to see them on a regular basis. It is more personal than a phone call, so even if you live a short distance away, it’s a handy way to keep in touch.
There are other services similar to Skype that you can try. Sightspeed is a service of Logitech Inc. Logitech is the company that makes the webcam that I use for my Skype calls.
SnapYap is another video calling service. I don’t have any experience with Sightspeed or SnapYap. Before you decide, check with the people who you intend to video call with to find out what, if any, software they are using.
I saw my first video phone at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. It was at the Bell System exhibit and they called it the Picturephone.
This link at the Older Than Me blog has a film clip about the 1964 World’s Fair including some footage of the Bell System exhibit and ride at the fair.
Happy video calling.