AT&T Corporation

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AT&T Corporation
Formerly
American Telephone and Telegraph Company
Subsidiary
Industry Telecommunications
FateBecame subsidiary of AT&T Inc. in 2005
FoundedMarch 3, 1885;134 years ago (1885-03-03)
New York City, New York, United States
Founders Alexander Graham Bell
Gardiner Greene Hubbard [1]
Thomas Sanders [2]
Headquarters,
United States of America
Area served
United States
Products Telephone services [ disambiguation needed ]
Long-distance calling
Internet services
Parent American Bell (1885-1899)
AT&T Inc. (2005-present)
Website www.att.com

AT&T Corporation, originally the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, is the subsidiary of AT&T Inc. that provides voice, video, data, and Internet telecommunications and professional services to businesses, consumers, and government agencies.

AT&T American multinational conglomerate holding company

AT&T Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered at Whitacre Tower in Downtown Dallas, Texas. It is the world's largest telecommunications company, the largest provider of mobile telephone services, and the largest provider of fixed telephone services in the United States through AT&T Communications. Since June 14, 2018, it is also the parent company of mass media conglomerate WarnerMedia, making it the world's largest media and entertainment company in terms of revenue. As of 2018, AT&T is ranked #9 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

Internet Global system of connected computer networks

The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing.

Business Organization undertaking commercial, industrial, or professional activity

Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products. Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit. It does not mean it is a company, a corporation, partnership, or have any such formal organization, but it can range from a street peddler to General Motors."

Contents

During its long history, AT&T was at times the world's largest telephone company, the world's largest cable television operator, and a regulated monopoly. At its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, it employed one million people and its revenue was roughly US$3 billion annually.

Telephone Telecommunications device

A telephone, or phone, is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to conduct a conversation when they are too far apart to be heard directly. A telephone converts sound, typically and most efficiently the human voice, into electronic signals that are transmitted via cables and other communication channels to another telephone which reproduces the sound to the receiving user.

Cable television Television content transmitted via signals on coaxial cable

Cable television is a system of delivering television programming to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables, or in more recent systems, light pulses through fiber-optic cables. This contrasts with broadcast television, in which the television signal is transmitted over the air by radio waves and received by a television antenna attached to the television; or satellite television, in which the television signal is transmitted by a communications satellite orbiting the Earth and received by a satellite dish on the roof. FM radio programming, high-speed Internet, telephone services, and similar non-television services may also be provided through these cables. Analog television was standard in the 20th century, but since the 2000s, cable systems have been upgraded to digital cable operation. James VanDamager invented CATV in 1948 in Milpitas, California.

Monopoly Market structure with a single firm dominating the market

A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity. This contrasts with a monopsony which relates to a single entity's control of a market to purchase a good or service, and with oligopoly which consists of a few sellers dominating a market. Monopolies are thus characterized by a lack of economic competition to produce the good or service, a lack of viable substitute goods, and the possibility of a high monopoly price well above the seller's marginal cost that leads to a high monopoly profit. The verb monopolise or monopolize refers to the process by which a company gains the ability to raise prices or exclude competitors. In economics, a monopoly is a single seller. In law, a monopoly is a business entity that has significant market power, that is, the power to charge overly high prices. Although monopolies may be big businesses, size is not a characteristic of a monopoly. A small business may still have the power to raise prices in a small industry.

In 2005, AT&T was purchased by Baby Bell and former subsidiary SBC Communications for more than $16 billion ($20.5 billion in present-day terms [3] ). SBC then changed its name to AT&T Inc.

History

Origins

A Bell System logo (called the Blue Bell) used from 1889 to 1916. Bell System hires 1889 logo.PNG
A Bell System logo (called the Blue Bell) used from 1889 to 1916.
Share of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company, issued 20. December 1921 AT&T 1921.jpg
Share of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company, issued 20. December 1921

AT&T started with Bell Patent Association, a legal entity established in 1874 to protect the patent rights of Alexander Graham Bell after he invented the telephone system. Originally a verbal agreement, it was formalized in writing in 1875 as Bell Telephone Company. [4] [5]

Alexander Graham Bell scientist and inventor known for his work on the telephone

Alexander Graham Bell was a Scottish-born American inventor, scientist, and engineer who is credited with inventing and patenting the first practical telephone. He also co-founded the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in 1885.

Bell Telephone Company

The Bell Telephone Company, a common law joint stock company, was organized in Boston, Massachusetts on July 9, 1877, by Alexander Graham Bell's father-in-law Gardiner Greene Hubbard, who also helped organize a sister company — the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company. The Bell Telephone Company was started on the basis of holding "potentially valuable patents", principally Bell's master telephone patent #174465.

In 1880 the management of American Bell had created what would become AT&T Long Lines. The project was the first of its kind to create a nationwide long-distance network with a commercially viable cost-structure. The project was formally incorporated in New York State as a separate company named American Telephone and Telegraph Company on March 3, 1885. Originating in New York, its long-distance telephone network reached Chicago, Illinois, in 1892, [6] with its multitudes of local exchanges continuing to stretch further and further yearly, eventually creating a continent-wide telephone system. On December 30, 1899, the assets of American Bell were transferred into its subsidiary American Telephone and Telegraph Company (formerly AT&T Long Lines); this was because Massachusetts corporate laws were very restrictive, and limited capitalization to ten million dollars, forestalling American Bell's further growth. With this assets transfer on the second to last day of the 19th Century, AT&T became the parent of both American Bell and the Bell System. [7]

New York (state) American state

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. In order to distinguish the state from its city with the same name, it is sometimes referred to as New York State (NYS).

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Chicago city and county seat of Cook County, Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is also the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the US, with portions of the northwest city limits extending into DuPage County near O'Hare Airport. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland. At nearly 10 million people, the metropolitan area is the third most populous in the nation.

AT&T was involved mainly in the telephone business and, although it was a partner with RCA, was reluctant to see radio grow because such growth might diminish the demand for wired services. It established station WEAF in New York as what was termed a toll station. AT&T could provide no programming, but anyone who wished to broadcast a message could pay a "toll" to AT&T and then air the message publicly. The original studio was the size of a telephone booth. The idea, however, did not take hold, because people would pay to broadcast messages only if they were sure that someone was listening. As a result, WEAF began broadcasting entertainment material, drawing amateur talent found among its employees. Opposition to AT&T's expansion into radio and an agreement with the National Broadcasting Company to lease long distance lines for their broadcasts resulted in the sale of the station and its developing network of affiliates to NBC. [8]

WNBC was a commercial AM radio station licensed to New York City from 1922 to 1988. For most of its history, it was the flagship station of the NBC Radio Network. It was a Class A clear-channel station broadcasting at the maximum power for AM radio, 50,000 watts. WNBC left the air on October 7, 1988. Its former frequency has since been occupied by Entercom-owned all-sports WFAN.

NBC American television and radio network

The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American English-language commercial terrestrial radio and television networks that is a flagship property of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The network is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, with additional major offices near Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. The network is one of the Big Three television networks. NBC is sometimes referred to as the "Peacock Network", in reference to its stylized peacock logo, introduced in 1956 to promote the company's innovations in early color broadcasting. It became the network's official emblem in 1979.

Monopoly

Throughout most of the 20th century, AT&T held a monopoly on phone service in the United States and Canada through a network of companies called the Bell System. At this time, the company was nicknamed Ma Bell.

On April 30, 1907, Theodore Newton Vail became President of AT&T. [9] [10] Vail believed in the superiority of one phone system and AT&T adopted the slogan "One Policy, One System, Universal Service." [9] [10] This would be the company's philosophy for the next 70 years. [10]

Under Vail, AT&T began buying up many of the smaller telephone companies including Western Union telegraph. [9] [10] These actions brought unwanted attention from antitrust regulators. Anxious to avoid action from government antitrust suits, AT&T and the federal government entered into an agreement known as the Kingsbury Commitment. [9] [10] In the Kingsbury Commitment, AT&T and the government reached an agreement that allowed AT&T to continue operating as a monopoly. While AT&T periodically faced scrutiny from regulators, this state of affairs continued until the company's breakup in 1984.

The Break-up

The United States Justice Department opened the case United States v. AT&T in 1974. This was prompted by suspicion that AT&T was using monopoly profits from its Western Electric subsidiary to subsidize the cost of its network, a violation of anti-trust law. [11] A settlement to this case was finalized in 1982, leading to the division of the company on January 1, 1984 into seven Regional Bell Operating Companies, commonly known as Baby Bells. These companies were:

Post-breakup, the former parent company's main business was now AT&T Communications, which focused on long distance services, and with other non-RBOC activities.

AT&T acquired NCR Corporation in 1991. AT&T announced in 1995 that it would split into three companies: a manufacturing/R&D company, a computer company, and a services company. NCR, Bell Labs and AT&T Technologies were to be spun off by 1997. In preparation for its spin-off, AT&T Technologies was renamed Lucent Technologies. Lucent was completely spun off from AT&T in 1996.

Acquisition by SBC

On January 31, 2005, the "Baby Bell" company SBC Communications announced its plans to acquire "Ma Bell" AT&T Corp. for $16 billion. SBC announced in October 2005 that it would shed the "SBC" brand and take the AT&T brand along with the "T" NYSE ticker symbol.

Merger approval concluded on November 18, 2005; SBC Communications began rebranding the following Monday, November 21 as "AT&T Inc." and began trading as AT&T on December 1 under the "T" symbol.

The AT&T headquarters buildings

From 1885 to 1910, AT&T was headquartered at 125 Milk Street in Boston. With its expansion it moved to New York City, to a headquarters on 195 Broadway (close to what is now the World Trade Center site). The property originally belonged to Western Union, of which AT&T held a controlling interest until 1913 when AT&T divested its interest as part of the Kingsbury Commitment. [10] Construction of the current building began in 1912. Designed by William Welles Bosworth, who played a significant role in designing Kykuit, the Rockefeller mansion north of Tarrytown, New York, it was a modern steel structure clad top to bottom in a Greek-styled exterior, the three-story-high Ionic columns of Vermont granite forming eight registers over a Doric base. [12] The lobby of the AT&T Building was one of the most unusual ones of the era. Instead of a large double-high space, similar to the nearby Woolworth Building, Bosworth designed what is called a "hypostyle hall", with full-bodied Doric columns modeled on the Parthenon, marking out a grid. Bosworth was seeking to coordinate the classical tradition with the requirements of a modern building. Columns were not merely the decorative elements they had become in the hands of other architects but created all the illusion of being real supports. Bosworth also designed the campus of MIT as well as Theodore N. Vail's mansion in Morristown, New Jersey.

In 1978, AT&T commissioned a new building at 550 Madison Avenue. This new AT&T Building was designed by Philip Johnson and quickly became an icon of the new Postmodern architectural style. The building was completed in 1984, the very year of the divestiture of the Bell System. The building proved to be too large for the post-divestiture corporation and in 1993, AT&T leased the building to Sony, which now owns it. [13] [14]

Divisions

AT&T, prior to its merger with SBC Communications, had three core companies:

AT&T Alascom continues to sell service in Alaska. AT&T Communications was renamed AT&T Communications - East, Inc. and sold long distance telephone service and operated as a CLEC outside of the borders of the Bell Operating Companies that AT&T owns. It has now been absorbed into AT&T Corp. and all but 4 of the original 22 subsidiaries that formed AT&T Communications continue to exist. AT&T Laboratories has been integrated into AT&T Labs, formerly named SBC Laboratories.

Nicknames and branding

AT&T was also known as "Ma Bell" and affectionately called "Mother" by phone phreaks. During some strikes by its employees, picketers would wear T-shirts reading, "Ma Bell is a real mother." It is worth noting too that, before the break-up, there was greater consumer recognition of the "Bell System" name, in comparison to the name AT&T. This prompted the company to launch an advertising campaign after the break-up to increase its name recognition. Spinoffs like the Regional Bell Operating Companies or RBOCs were often called "Baby Bells". Ironically, "Ma Bell" was acquired by one of its "Baby Bells", SBC Communications, in 2005.

The AT&T Globe Symbol, [15] the corporate logo designed by Saul Bass in 1983 and originally used by AT&T Information Systems, was created because part of the United States v. AT&T settlement required AT&T to relinquish all claims to the use of Bell System trademarks. It has been nicknamed the "Death Star" in reference to Star Wars . In 1999 it was changed from the 12-line design to the 8-line design. Again in 2005 it was changed to the 3D transparent "marble" design created by Interbrand for use by the parent company AT&T Inc. This name was also given to the iconic Bell Labs facility in Holmdel, New Jersey, now vacant.

List of AT&T Chief Executive Officers

The following is a list of the 16 CEOs of AT&T Corporation, from its incorporation in 1885 until its purchase by SBC Communications in 2005. [16]

#Chief Executive OfficerYears in officeTitle
1 Theodore Newton Vail, bw photo portrait, 1913.jpg Theodore Newton Vail 1885–1887President
2 The history of the telephone (1910) (14756392855).jpg John E. Hudson1887–1900President
3 Frederick Perry Fish 1901–1907President
4 Theodore Newton Vail, bw photo portrait, 1913.jpg Theodore Newton Vail 1907–1919President
5 Harry Bates Thayer 1919–1925President
6 Walter Sherman Gifford in 1925.jpg Walter Sherman Gifford 1925–1948President
7Leroy A. Wilson1948–1951President
8 Bell telephone magazine (1922) (14569651027).jpg Cleo F. Craig1951–1956President
9 Frederick Kappel 1956–1961
1961–1967
President
Chairman
10H.I. Romnes1967–1972Chairman
11 John D. deButts 1972–1979Chairman
12Charles L. Brown1979–1986Chairman
13James E. Olson1986–1988Chairman
14 Robert Eugene Allen 1988–1997Chairman
15 C. Michael Armstrong 1997–2002Chairman
16 David Dorman 2002–2005Chairman

See also

Related Research Articles

The Kingsbury Commitment of 1913 was an out-of-court settlement of the government's antitrust challenge of AT&T's growing vertical monopoly over the phone industry. In return for the government's agreement not to pursue its case against AT&T as a monopolist, AT&T agreed to divest the controlling interest it had acquired in the Western Union telegraph company, and to allow non-competing independent telephone companies to interconnect with the AT&T long distance network.

Regional Bell Operating Company U.S. regional telephone companies created by 1984 AT&T breakup

The Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOC) are the result of United States v. AT&T, the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust suit against the former American Telephone & Telegraph Company. On January 8, 1982, AT&T Corp. settled the suit and agreed to divest its local exchange service operating companies. Effective January 1, 1984, AT&T Corp.'s local operations were split into seven independent Regional Bell Operating Companies known as Baby Bells.

AT&T Teleholdings, Inc., formerly known as Ameritech Corporation, is an American telecommunications company that arose out of the 1984 AT&T divestiture. Ameritech was one of the seven Regional Bell Operating Companies that was created following the breakup of the Bell System. Ameritech was acquired by SBC Communications in 1999 which subsequently acquired AT&T Corporation in 2006, becoming the present-day AT&T Inc.

Universal service is an economic, legal and business term used mostly in regulated industries, referring to the practice of providing a baseline level of services to every resident of a country. An example of this concept is found in the US Telecommunications Act of 1996, whose goals are:

The New England Telephone and Telegraph Company was a very early company set up to develop the then-new telephone.

The Pacific Bell Telephone Company is a telephone company that provides telephone service in California. The company is owned by AT&T Inc. through AT&T Teleholdings, and, though separate, is now marketed as “AT&T”. The company has been known by a number of names during which its service area has changed. The formal name of the company from the 1910s through the 1984 Bell System divestiture was The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. As of 2002, the name “Pacific Bell” is no longer used in marketing, Pacific Bell is still the holder of record for the infrastructure of cables and fiber through much of California.

Pacific Telesis Group was one of the seven Regional Bell Operating Companies, sometimes also referred to as "RBOCs" or "Baby Bells", created in 1983 in preparation of the breakup of AT&T as a holding company for Pacific Bell and Nevada Bell, Pacific Telesis International and several other non-regulated companies including PacTel Mobile Services and PacTel InfoSystems. It was acquired by SBC Communications in 1997.

Breakup of the Bell System

The breakup of the Bell System was mandated on January 8, 1982, by an agreed consent decree providing that AT&T Corporation would, as had been initially proposed by AT&T, relinquish control of the Bell Operating Companies that had provided local telephone service in the United States and Canada up until that point. This effectively took the monopoly that was the Bell System and split it into entirely separate companies that would continue to provide telephone service. AT&T would continue to be a provider of long distance service, while the now-independent Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) would provide local service, and would no longer be directly supplied with equipment from AT&T subsidiary Western Electric.

Nevada Bell Telephone Company, originally Bell Telephone Company of Nevada, is a Nevada telephone provider and it was the Bell System's telephone provider in Nevada. It only provides telephone services to 30% of the state, essentially all of the state outside Las Vegas, where service is provided by CenturyLink. Nevada Bell spent nearly all of its history as a subsidiary of Pacific Bell, which is the reason Nevada Bell was not listed in Judge Harold Greene's Modification of Final Judgment, starting the breakup of AT&T.

Michigan Bell

Michigan Bell is the subsidiary of AT&T serving the state of Michigan. Following the Bell System divestiture on January 8, 1984, the company became a subsidiary of Ameritech, the Regional Bell operating company that served the midwestern United States. Ameritech was subsequently acquired by SBC Communications, which later changed its name to AT&T.

Indiana Bell

Indiana Bell Telephone Company, Incorporated, is the Bell Operating Company serving Indiana. It is an indirect subsidiary of AT&T Inc., owned by AT&T Teleholdings.

BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC is an operating company of AT&T that serves the southeastern United States. It consists of the former operations of Southern Bell and South Central Bell.

SBC Long Distance LLC is a long distance telephone company owned by AT&T that does business as AT&T Long Distance. SBC Long Distance competes with other long distance providers who provide service within some of the Bell Operating Company service boundaries of AT&T. SBC Long Distance is a separate subsidiary than AT&T Communications, the incumbent long distance carrier for most of the country acquired in the SBC merger with AT&T.

<i>Spirit of Communication</i> sculpture serving as a symbol of AT&T

Spirit of Communication is the formal name for a statue originally called Genius of Telegraphy. The statue has been the symbol of AT&T since their commission was completed in 1916. It is also known informally as the Golden Boy statue.

AT&T refers to several related companies providing telecommunications services:

Bell System telephone service provider

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 Canada and the United States 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.

Southwestern Bell American telecommunications company

Southwestern Bell Telephone Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T. It does business as other d/b/a names in its operating region, which includes Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and portions of Illinois.

The history of AT&T dates back to the invention of the telephone. The Bell Telephone Company was established in 1877 by Alexander Graham Bell, who obtained the first US patent for the telephone, and his father-in-law, Gardiner Greene Hubbard. Bell and Hubbard also established American Telephone and Telegraph Company in 1885, which acquired the Bell Telephone Company and became the primary telephone company in the United States. This company maintained a monopoly on telephone service in the United States until anti-trust regulators split the company in 1982.

Frontier Communications of Connecticut

The Southern New England Telephone Company, doing business as Frontier Communications of Connecticut, is a local exchange carrier owned by Frontier Communications.

References

Footnotes

  1. Bruce, Robert V. (1990) [1st pub. 1973]. Bell: Alexander Graham Bell and the Conquest of Solitude. Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press. p. 231. ISBN   0-8014-9691-8.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–" . Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  4. Bruce 1990, p. 291.[ full citation needed ]
  5. Pizer 2009, pp. 120–124.Bruce 1990, p. 291[ full citation needed ]
  6. Bruce 1990.Bruce 1990, p. 291[ full citation needed ]
  7. Brooks 1976, p. 107.Bruce 1990, p. 291[ full citation needed ]
  8. Perry, S. D. (2004). A Consolidated History of Media (3rd ed.). Bloomington, IL: Epistelogic.[ page needed ]
  9. 1 2 3 4 Thierer, Adam D. (1994). "Unnatural Monopoly: Critical Moments in the Development of the Bell System Monopoly" (PDF). Cato Journal. Cato Institute. 14 (2): 267–285.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "AT&T Milestones in AT&T History". AT&T . Archived from the original on September 28, 2008. Retrieved September 17, 2008.
  11. Yurick, p. 7.Bruce 1990, p. 291[ full citation needed ]
  12. Jarzombek, Mark (2004). Designing MIT: Bosworth's New Tech. Boston: Northeastern University Press. pp. 65–68. ISBN   1555536190. OCLC   55124376.
  13. Popik, Barry (September 25, 2005). "Chippendale Building (SONY building)". The Big Apple.
  14. Stoler, Michael (September 8, 2005). "Fortune 100 Companies Capitalize on Record Prices". The Stoler Report. First American Title Insurance Company of New York. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007.
  15. Massey, David. "Bell Logo History". Bell System Memorial. The Porticus Centre. Archived from the original on September 30, 2011.
  16. Focus magazine (internal AT&T company publication), sidebar titled "AT&T's chief executives", 1988

Works cited