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Historical Firsts | Technology Review

Historical Firsts

(Whereas history and historical "firsts" are always subject to opinion and subjective interpretation, to the best of our knowledge this list represents an accurate account of key "firsts" and "milestones" for the IFE industry. We welcome your comments and your suggestions for additions to this list.)

  • 1921 - First Inflight Movie - Aeromarine Airways showed HOWDY CHICAGO to its passengers as the amphibian airplane flew around Chicago.
  • 1932 - First Inflight TV - A "media event" on Western Air Express Fokker F-10 aircraft.
  • 1961 - David Flexer of Inflight Motion Pictures develops 16mm film system for commercial aircraft. Mechanics required to change 30-inch-diameter film reels.
  • 1961 - First feature film exhibited on a regularly scheduled commercial airline flight (TWA B707) - MGM's BY LOVE POSSESSED, starring Lana Turner and Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
  • 1962 - American & Pan Am install TV monitors in first class of a Lockheed Electra Aircraft.
  • 1962 - Pakistan International Airlines becomes the first international carrier to show movies inflight.
  • 1962, AVID Airline Products develops and manufactures the first pneumatic headset used onboard the airlines and provides them to TWA.
  • 1971 - Trans Com develops the 8mm film cassette. Flight attendants could now change movies inflight and add short subject programming.
  • 1975 - Braniff Airways introduces Atari video games onboard flights.
  • 1978 - AEA (Airline Entertainment Association) formed and holds first conference in Palm Springs. Name changed in 1985 to WAEA (World Airline Entertainment Association)
  • 1978 - Bell & Howell (Avicom Division) markets first video-tape system (VHS)
  • 1979 - "Electronic" headphones introduced on selected aircraft and premium cabins (Air France, Air Canada, Pan Am), replacing "pneumatic" headphones.
  • 1984 - Airfone introduces the world's first inflight telephone system on American Airlines. (Nearly 5000 aircraft worldwide have telephone service by 2000.)
  • 1985 - Avicom introduces the first audio player system, based on the Philips Tape Cassette technology.
  • 1988 - Airvision introduces the world's first in-seat video system, using 2.7-inch LCD displays. Northwest trials the system on a B747 with positive passenger reaction.
  • 1989 - First IFE noise-cancellation headphones introduced by Sennheiser.
  • 1989 - American Airlines makes first fleet-wide installation (B767) of in-seat video in first class (Avicom).
  • 1991 - Virgin Atlantic Airways offers seat-back video in all classes (including economy).
  • 1992 - ASI flight tested on a Qantas B747-400 the first Cabin Crew Terminal connected to the Inmarsat cockpit Datalink accessing the SITA terrestrial network providing global Inflight Passenger Telefax capability.
  • 1993 - First Inflight Fax - Avtech's Facsimile units installed on Singapore Airlines.
  • 1995 - First noise-cancelling headphones (Sennheiser) introduced on Air France in first/business class on long-range flights.
  • 1996 - First installation of Inseat Power Outlets, on Delta Air Lines.
  • 1996 -- Live television premiered on a Delta Air Lines B767 to support the Atlanta Olympics.
  • 1997 -- Swissair installs first interactive Video-On-Demand entertainment system installed on an entire aircraft.
  • 2000 - In April JetBlue introduces live (via satellite) inflight television fleetwide in all cabins.
  • 2000 - First fleetwide introduction of hand-held DVD-players on American Airlines and Swissair
  • 2001 -- First Inflight E-mail transmission: Air Canada during a "Press Demonstration" flight, 17 January 2001 from Montreal to Toronto.
  • 2003 - Alaska Airlines in October 2003 introduces portable, hard-drive based, audio-video-on-demand units delivering a variety of film, TV, and audio programs.
  • 2004 - Lufthansa German Airlines, on 17 May 2004, launched the Connexion By Boeing real-time, wireless-based high-speed Internet connectivity service on an A340-300 flying the Munich-to-Los Angeles route.
  • 2004 - American Airlines, on 15 July 2004 , flew a �proof of concept� demonstration flight during which passengers could use personal (CDMA) cellular phones inflight to make voice calls to the ground (using QUALCOMM's pico cell system).
  • 2005 - Singapore Airlines, in July 2005, introduced four channels of live television (BBC World, EuroNews, Eurosports, CNBC) on international flights via an inflight broadband connection (using the Connexion By Boeing system) wirelessly to passengers' notebook computers.

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