Polycom Donates SoundStation Devices to National Museum of American History

Smithsonian Acquires Original Teleconferencing Equipment for Its Collection of Electrical History
November 30, 2017

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has acquired objects related to Polycom’s development of teleconferencing technologies 25 years ago, which marked an advance in business communications. The donation from the San Jose, Calif.-based corporation includes the original wooden prototype, initial breadboard (an experimental version of the circuit) and early drawings of the Polycom SoundStation from 1990–2.

Placed on a conference table, the SoundStation enabled multiple users to participate in a conversation over one device using advanced audio technologies. These early versions from 1990 help illustrate the evolution of the invention from prototype to final product. The company also donated Transparent and Blue SoundStations, SoundStation Premier and the Polycom Trio released this year.

“Through these and other objects, the museum tells the story of business communications from Alexander Graham Bell’s original telephone to modern conferencing technology,” said Harold Wallace, curator of the museum’s electricity collections.

The Polycom artifacts join the more than 25,000 objects in the Electricity Collections. The collection documents and preserves the history of electrical science and electrical technologies that are the foundation of the modern world.

“Everyone at Polycom is honored that our Polycom SoundStation is joining nearly 200 years of communications technology in the permanent collections at the National Museum of American History,” said Jeff Rodman, co-founder and chief technology evangelist at Polycom. “The Polycom team is proud of the amazing work we did 25 years ago to transform collaboration technology in the conference room, but we know that was only the starting point and we look forward to what’s next.”

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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