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Very expensive videoconferencing systems rapidly evolved throughout the 1980s and 1990s from proprietary equipment, software and network requirements to standards-based technologies that were available for anyone to purchase at a reasonable cost.Only in the late 20th century with the advent of powerful video codecs combined with high-speed Internet broadband and ISDN service did videotelephony become a practical technology for regular use.One of the first commercial videoconferencing systems sold to companies came from Picture Tel Corp., which had an Initial Public Offering in November, 1984.

More popular videotelephony technologies use the Internet rather than the traditional landline phone network, even accounting for modern digital packetized phone network protocols, and even though videotelephony software commonly runs on smartphones.

In the 1980s, digital telephony transmission networks became possible, such as with ISDN networks, assuring a minimum bit rate (usually 128 kilobits/s) for compressed video and audio transmission.

During this time, there was also research into other forms of digital video and audio communication.

At the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Nagano, Japan, Seiji Ozawa conducted the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony simultaneously across five continents in near-real time.

While videoconferencing technology was initially used primarily within internal corporate communication networks, one of the first community service usages of the technology started in 1992 through a unique partnership with Picture Tel and IBM Corporations which at the time were promoting a jointly developed desktop based videoconferencing product known as the PCS/1.