HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » 35 yrs ago today; The Bel...

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 06:59 AM

35 yrs ago today; The Bell System is broken up

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_System#Nationwide_monopoly



The Bell System was the system of companies, led by the Bell Telephone Company and later by AT&T, which provided telephone services to much of the United States and Canada from 1877 to 1984, at various times as a monopoly. On December 31, 1983, the system was divided into independent companies by a U.S. Justice Department mandate.

<snip>

Nationwide monopoly
Bell system telephones and related equipment were made by Western Electric, a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T Co. Member telephone companies paid a fixed fraction of their revenues as a license fee to Bell Labs.

As a result of this vertical monopoly, by 1940 the Bell System effectively owned most telephone service in the United States, from local and long-distance service to the telephones themselves. This allowed Bell to prohibit its customers from connecting phones not made or sold by Bell to the system without paying fees. For example, if a customer desired a type of phone not leased by the local Bell monopoly, he or she had to purchase the phone at cost, give it to the phone company, then pay a 're-wiring' charge and a monthly lease fee in order to use it.

In 1949, the United States Department of Justice alleged in an antitrust lawsuit that AT&T and the Bell System operating companies were using their near-monopoly in telecommunications to attempt to establish unfair advantage in related technologies. The outcome was a 1956 consent decree limiting AT&T to 85% of the United States' national telephone network and certain government contracts, and from continuing to hold interests in Canada and the Caribbean. The Bell System's Canadian operations included the Bell Canada regional operating company and the Northern Electric manufacturing subsidiary of the Bell System's Western Electric equipment manufacturer. Western Electric divested Northern Electric in 1956, but AT&T did not divest itself of Bell Canada until 1975. ITT Corporation, then known as International Telephone & Telegraph Co. purchased the Bell System's Caribbean regional operating companies.

The Bell System also owned various Caribbean regional operating companies, as well as 54% of Japan's NEC and a post-World War II reconstruction relationship with NTT before the 1956 boundaries were emplaced. Before 1956, the Bell System's reach was truly gargantuan. Even during the period from 1956 to 1984, the Bell System's dominant reach into all forms of communications was pervasive within the United States and influential in telecommunication standardization throughout the industrialized world.

The 1984 Bell System divestiture brought an end to the affiliation branded as the Bell System. It resulted from another antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1974, alleging illegal practices by the Bell System companies to stifle competition in the telecommunications industry. The parties settled the suit on January 8, 1982, superseding the former restrictions that AT&T and the DOJ had agreed upon in 1956.

</snip>


IMO, telecom customer service has not improved since the breakup...

26 replies, 1557 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 26 replies Author Time Post
Reply 35 yrs ago today; The Bell System is broken up (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Dec 2018 OP
akraven Dec 2018 #1
rampartc Dec 2018 #2
sinkingfeeling Dec 2018 #3
dembotoz Dec 2018 #4
karynnj Dec 2018 #7
Recursion Dec 2018 #8
karynnj Dec 2018 #14
Recursion Dec 2018 #15
karynnj Dec 2018 #16
dembotoz Dec 2018 #9
karynnj Dec 2018 #13
dembotoz Dec 2018 #18
karynnj Dec 2018 #21
dembotoz Jan 2019 #24
HAB911 Dec 2018 #17
karynnj Dec 2018 #22
HAB911 Jan 2019 #25
sl8 Dec 2018 #5
UpInArms Dec 2018 #6
asiliveandbreathe Dec 2018 #10
Qutzupalotl Dec 2018 #11
TeamPooka Dec 2018 #19
MineralMan Dec 2018 #12
Takket Dec 2018 #20
TheBlackAdder Dec 2018 #23
dawg day Jan 2019 #26

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 07:12 AM

1. 1971 - 1972 I was a cordboard operator for ACS here.

Senior in high school, it was union, great pay, and hours. It got insane at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and - get this - Mother's Day!

Got my college fund up to a huge level, and quit.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 08:32 AM

2. you may have noticed the octapus reuniting with its tenracles

ever since.

advances in technology (cell phone for 1) have been amazing since 1983, and the question of how responsive "ma bell" would have been is unanswerable, but there were a few advantages to the monopoly. those old western electric teleplones were indestructable.

my mother was a switchboard operator for the old company. she never forgot a phone number. i can't even remember the wife's.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 08:51 AM

3. I have 3 phones made by Western Electric, still working in my house today. All are from

the 1970s.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 08:59 AM

4. Customer service maybe not but innovation has

With no competition att would still be suggesting dial up

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dembotoz (Reply #4)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 10:17 AM

7. Absolutely not true AT&T funded pure and applied research at Bell Labs

Bell Labs was involved in many areas of research, including work, led by BBN, on the ARPA net, the precursor of the internet. MCI and Sprint, the competitors favored to gain after the breakup did very little research.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to karynnj (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 10:23 AM

8. They moved UNIX from a hobbyist toy to a serious platform

Bell Labs and XEROX PARC were our version of a national lab system

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Recursion (Reply #8)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 12:14 PM

14. Exactly

In fact, Senator Inoye (HI) commented sometime around 2005/2006 in a telecommunications hearing of the Senate Commerce committee that it was a mistake to thing that breaking up AT&T would not slowly kill Bell Labs as that kind of national lab. For years, AT&T and IBM between them assured the US position of having the most patents. With AT&T, many key patents were voluntarily shared - the transister which was key to so many things - including PCs. The reason I have heard is that it was because AT&T wanted to make its being a regulated monopoly a clearly beneficial thing for the country.

It was also an incredible place to work, which encouraged people to work with others with different, but connected fields and to learn new things in classes - often taught by Bell Labs people who were internationally known.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to karynnj (Reply #14)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 12:55 PM

15. Have you seen the Mother of All Demos?



Xerox PARC, DARPA, and Bell Labs at their finest. Maybe we could make some of the current tech giants well-regulated monopolies like that.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Recursion (Reply #15)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 01:01 PM

16. No, thanks - will watch this later

I worked at Bell Labs between 1972 and 1998. It was an incredible place to work.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to karynnj (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 10:59 AM

9. i sell their stuff...late to the game on mostly everything

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dembotoz (Reply #9)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 12:06 PM

13. You are looking at retail products

That was never the main focus of AT&T.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to karynnj (Reply #13)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 07:12 PM

18. nopers i sell att business and other competitors

i used to sell more att but now the competition generally eats their lunch.

have hope for 5 g but not holding my breathe

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dembotoz (Reply #18)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 07:44 PM

21. I am talking of pre 1984, when they developed

The technology used for telephany. Again you are talking of products that use the network. It doesn't matter if they are for businesses.

The bigger point is that I was speaking of AT &T pre 1984 with Bell Labs as the premiere US research lab. AT&T now is a pale shadow of that. The Regional Bell Operating company out of Texas bought AT&T in 2005. At that point AT&T was only a long distance company.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to karynnj (Reply #21)

Tue Jan 1, 2019, 04:05 AM

24. My experience sbc thru the debacle purchase of att

Understand the purchase was to gain the network and why in retrospect it was needed.
But for way too long att couldn't provision a wet dream.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dembotoz (Reply #4)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 01:02 PM

17. LOL, still be using cord boards if not forced to switch to dial

I worked for Automatic Electric

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to HAB911 (Reply #17)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 07:45 PM

22. Bell Labs invented the direct dial ability in the 1960s

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to karynnj (Reply #22)

Tue Jan 1, 2019, 10:01 AM

25. Almon Strowger invented dial equipment that Bell System adopted

including THE DIAL, long before the '60s, like 1891 Strowger switch "Automatic Telephone Exchange" March 10, 1891

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almon_Brown_Strowger


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 09:25 AM

5. It helped pave the way for better and cheaper modems.



From Wikipedia, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_coupler


...

Prior to its breakup in 1984, Bell System's legal monopoly over telephony in the United States allowed the company to impose strict rules on how consumers could access their network. Customers were prohibited from connecting equipment not made or sold by Bell to the network. The same set-up was operative in nearly all countries, where the telephone companies were nationally owned. In many households, telephones were hard-wired to wall terminals before connectors like RJ11 and BS 6312 became standardized.

The situation was similar in other countries. In Australia, until 1975 the PMG, a Government monopoly, owned all telephone wiring and equipment in user premises and prohibited attachment of third party devices, and while most handsets were connected by 600 series connectors, these were peculiar to Australia so imported equipment could not be directly connected in any case, despite the general electrical compatibility.

It was not until a landmark court ruling regarding the Hush-A-Phone in 1956 that the use of a phone attachment (by a third party vendor) was allowed for the first time; though AT&T's right to regulate any device connected to the telephone system was upheld by the courts, they were instructed to cease interference towards Hush-A-Phone users.[1] A second court decision in 1968 regarding the Carterfone further allowed any device not harmful to the system to be connected directly to the AT&T network. This decision enabled the proliferation of later innovations like answering machines, fax machines, and modems.

...



More at link.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 09:48 AM

6. I remember my astronomical long distance bills

They were horrifying ...

And now we live, once again, in an age of fewer and fewer options, as corporations swallow and destroy their competition

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 11:37 AM

10. I was a cord board oper. 1964..still in HS..NETCO....retired Nov 1998..with a

Five year break in service...I had a wonderful career..took pride in the Cust. service we provided..we opened the first PhoneCenter stores Framingham Ma..and Chelsea..we introduced the first Mobil Phones hard wired in autos....multi-line business phones..then came bi-forcation, 1983 and divestiture 1984....

Jan 1984 we had piles of hard wired phones returned to the PhoneCenters..people BUYING phones instead of renting....modular jacks provided ease of installation...

1998, approx. 15,000 of us took the offer....those who were eligible...years and service combined to equal 75....

I understand some feel their cust. service is not what they expect..but understand..todays AT&T is SBC values..not the values of Baldridge Award winners....or the old AT&T....

From one of many pioneer, heritage employee, retired AT&T alumni - Best to ALL..Happy New Year....

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 11:45 AM

11. Time for another breakup.

They now control HBO, DirecTV and Warner Media. They are forcing their satellite competitor, Dish Network, to pay an HBO subscription rate much higher than their number of subscribers. Dish balked, and now HBO channels have been removed from Dish Network. My alternative is to drop Dish and go to DirecTV, or try to stream from the only reliable provider in my area ... AT&T. This is blatant anticompetitive behavior.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Qutzupalotl (Reply #11)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 07:24 PM

19. look into a Fire Stick. I use one for HBO and Amazon and Netflix all together delivered to my TV

through my wifi

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 11:51 AM

12. My small, rural California town was one of the last

two places in California that still had operators like the ones in your photo. We didn't get dial phones until 1963, actually. You picked up the phone and waited for the operator to ask: "Number please." I don't remember our home phone number, but I remember the number of the place my father worked. It was 42.

When the new dial phones were available, a phone company technician came to the house and installed the shiny new black dial phone and took away your old one. We got new phone books, too. It was amazingly cool.

No longer, though, could you call the doctor's number and have the operator tell you, "Dr. Kerr isn't in his office. He's on a house call. I'll ring through to the number where he is." That was "Call Forwarding" with a personal touch.

Caller ID before dial phones consisted of saying, "Who's calling please?"

Times change and keep right on changing.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 07:37 PM

20. something this page didn't mention............

Breaking up the companies didn't create any competition. After all if Ma Bell was broken up and you now had New England Telephone, well, what good does that do you if NET is still the only place you get get service from?

What created competition was the requirement that the Bells set aside "collocation" space in their exchange buildings where competitors could install their own switch equipment for use over the existing copper network.

The last sentence of the page also highlights the fact that the government basically turned a blind eye when AT&T processed to gobble up all the baby bells and reconstitute itself into the original nationwide company it was before it was broken up. I always found this to be quite absurd. All the lawsuits and all the time it took to break the Bell system up and it was basically right back where it started from. Though "breaking it up" again is not a big deal because these days land lines are all but dead and there are many telecom companies including AT&T offering wireless services.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2018, 07:52 PM

23. I remember calling people 30 miles away for free, but a friend 1 mile away was a toll charge.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Jan 1, 2019, 11:47 AM

26. I remember thinking, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"--- but....

Looking back, I know that most everything about our current "communications" life wouldn't have happened without this breakup.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread