Years before Apple owned iPhone.com, a protestor did

The rights group never anticipated the rise of mobile.


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Making voice calls on WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Skype, may be a part of life these days but the advent of internet calling technology had spooked a rights group in the late 90s.

This was the time when the internet revolution was taking over the world.

The personal computer had been around for a decade and cellular phones had taken their place in the masses.

In 1998, a company called VocalTec introduced computer-to-telephone using the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.

Some consumers of telephone services started seeing this as an affront to their right to affordable calls.

They believed that calling through the internet with a personal computer will be cheaper than normal telephone calls.

Since they considered personal computer a luxury they started an online protest by launching the website that read:

Join the Internet Phone PROTEST !!!!
Help Us fight the use of the Internet to replace telephone service as we know it!!!!!!!!!

The site elaborated their point of vies as follows:

This is an unfair element creeping into the internet community. Only those who have the luxury of owning a computer will be able to use the Internet to make a telephone call. Why should the rich be allowed to make telephone calls at lower rates? All citizens have the right of universal access. Who is going to pay?? This technology should be PROTESTED!
As a form of protest, please mail or fax your written PROTEST to your nearest governmental official

Recovered from web archives, the URL for the site was a poetic http://iphone.com where iPhone stood for “internet phone.”

In retrospect, we know how data calling hasn’t come even close to killing the cellular call market.

In the year of this protest, 1% of people had availed this VoIP technology.

And perhaps this rights group missed the extension of VoIP usage in telephone calls. Blackberry was around the corner and it soon popularized the use of data on the handheld phone.

However, what no one could see in their wildest dreams at the time this protest site was launched, was the integration of a computer and a phone that was to be launched in 2007 by Steve Jobs and called the iPhone.

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Cindy Harper

Cindy Harper is a tech news staff writer based in Maryland, USA. After getting her start in local journalism, Cindy now reports mostly on social media stories for Reclaim. [email protected]