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When the pioneers of videoconferencing were developing the first systems back in the mid 1980's, the proposition seemed easy enough: take existing television cameras and monitors and use them to enable a 2-way interactive conference. Right? Well, not so fast. The problem is videoconferencing becomes a powerful solution only if it can be used to call anywhere on the globe - and there are two major, incompatible standards to which video equipment are manufactured: NTSC (National Television System Committee) and PAL (Phase Alternation by Line). OK, there's also SECAM (Systeme Electronique Couleur Avec Memoire), but the resolution of SECAM is equal to that of PAL, and SECAM's popularity is fading. Incompatible standards means that the video from an NTSC camera cannot be displayed on a monitor designed for PAL and vice-versa.
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