AT&T – History of the Telecom Giant

The American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (American Telephone and Telegraph) began with the purpose of handling the first long-distance telephone network in the United States (March 3, 1885). Starting in New York, the network was extended to Chicago in 1892, and San Francisco in 1915. Began providing transatlantic services in 1927 using radio as the first submarine transatlantic telephone cable did not arrive until 1956.

The creation of the Bell Telephone Company was the result of an agreement between Alexander Graham Bell and his investors, including G. Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders. Its name was changed several times, and already by 1880 it was known as the American Bell Telephone Company. For 1881, the American Bell had purchased from Western Union a majority interest of the company Western Electric. Interestingly, three years before this happened, Western Union had rejected an offer of Gardiner Hubbard, which gave them rights over the phone at a cost of $ 100.000.

Bell’s patent on the telephone expired in 1894, but the company managed to “control” the competition by cutting demand and prices. On December 30, 1899, the American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation purchased the assets of American Bell, creating a telephone monopoly in the United States. He was known as the Bell System because Bell had acquired in previous years several companies that had granted licenses to produce telephone equipment.

The phone market was very competitive in the early 20 th century. During this period, officers of AT & T launched several rumors that the company was not in good condition, that made investors of the companies contracted by AT & T, fearing a collapse, selling. After that, AT & T bought these shares at a cheaper price, and soon became, at the national level, the main provider of telephone services. In 1907, Theodore Vail, president of AT & T, suggested that a formal monopoly would be more appropriate and efficient. The U.S. government initially accepted this proposal in 1913 by the Kingsbury Commitment.

During most of the 20 th century, long-distance subsidiary of AT & T, AT & T Long Lines, enjoyed a virtual monopoly of long distance telephone services in the United States. AT & T also controlled 22 Bell Operating Companies, which were providing local phone service to much of the United States. Although there were other “independent telephone companies, Bell System was the largest of all.

In 1925, AT & T created a new unit called Bell Telephone Laboratories (Bell Labs). This research and development unit proved to be successful to start projects such as radio astronomy, the transistor, the Unix operating system and programming language C. However, its parent company are not always taken advantage of these achievements.

The telephone monopoly ended on January 8, 1982, when it resolved an antitrust lawsuit by the Department of Justice of the United States to AT & T (begun in 1974). Under the agreement, AT & T would be separated from its local operating service companies. In return, allowed AT & T enter the computer business. Although the Department of Defense of the United States did not want AT & T was split on 1 January 1984, the local services for AT & T were separated into seven Operating Companies Regional Bell, independent of each other, known as “Baby Bells.” The value of AT & T was reduced by 70%. The company continued its long distance service, but lost several customers in subsequent years due to competition from MCI and Sprint.

After his attempt to enter the computer market failed in 1991 AT & T absorbed NCR Corporation, hoping to generate benefits in the areas of UNIX networks and personal computers, but failed to get substantial technological and financial benefits after the merger. In 1996, NCR was separated from AT & T because of a new telecommunications law (the Telecommunications Act) introduced in the United States. At the same time, services and equipment manufacturing Bell Laboratories AT & T became Lucent Technologies (a new independent company.)

In 1997, AT & T hired Michael Armstrong, former IBM executive as chief executive officer. Armstrong’s vision was to turn AT & T, a long distance provider, an entire global telecommunications supermarket.

The most significant strategy Armstrong was buying a large amount of assets in the market for cable television. After acquiring TCI and Media One, AT & T became the supplier of the largest cable television in the United States.

In 1999 AT & T acquired the Olivetti Research Laboratory & Oracle Research Lab, from Olivetti and Oracle Corporation. In 2002 research work was completed in the laboratory.

By reducing long distance costs and the weak telecommunications market by the end of the last century, AT & T could not handle all the debts that led to its various investments in other markets. Because of this, the company was reorganized in October 2000, moving its mobile phone units and Broadband separate sections so that they could raise their own capital for daily operations.

In 2001, AT & T was separated completely from the mobile phone services and broadband, creating three new independent companies AT & T Wireless, AT & T Broadband and Liberty Media. In 2002, Comcast Communications Corporation acquired AT & T Broadband, and in 2004 AT & T Wireless merged with Cingular Wireless and so does the 2005 with SBC Communications.

Since 2008, the company decided to gradually withdraw from public phones on the streets, after the mass abandonment of the population after the expansion of mobile telephony.

The current corporate logo (the Globe AT & T) was designed in 1983 by Saul Bass.


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