Bell System

Bell Operating CompanyBell Operating CompaniesBell TelephoneBellBell Telephone CompanyMa BellA.T. & T.AT&TBell Operating Companies (BOCs)Bell System companies
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Telephone exchange

exchangescentral officeexchange
Within a few years local exchange companies were established in every major city in the United States.
The term telephone exchange is often used synonymously with central office, a Bell System term.

Breakup of the Bell System

Bell System divestiturebreakup of AT&TAT&T divestiture
Proliferation of telephone service allowed the company to become the largest corporation in the world until its dismantling by the United States Department of Justice in 1984, at which time the Bell System ceased to exist.
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.

Western Electric

Western Electric CompanyWestrexWestern Electric Manufacturing Company
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. 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.
The Western Electric Company was an American electrical engineering and manufacturing company that was officially founded in 1869 and served as the primary supplier and purchasing agent to the Bell System and AT&T from 1881 to 1996.

New Haven, Connecticut

New HavenNew Haven, CTFoote School
In 1877, the American Bell Telephone Company, named after Alexander Graham Bell, opened the first telephone exchange in New Haven, Connecticut.

Bell Telephone Company

Bell TelephoneAmerican Bell Telephone CompanyAmerican Bell
The Bell System was the system of companies, led by the Bell Telephone Company and later by AT&T, which dominated the telephone services industry in North America for 100 years from its creation in 1877 until its demise in the early 1980s.
On January 1, 1900, AT&T, a publicly traded corporation, owned the major assets of American Bell and thus became the head of the Bell System.

Monopoly

monopoliesmonopolisticmonopolist
In 1913, the federal government challenged the Bell System's growing monopoly over the phone system under AT&T ownership in an anti-trust suit, leading to the Kingsbury Commitment.
The Bell System, later AT&T, was protected from competition first by the Kingsbury Commitment, and later by a series of agreements between AT&T and the Federal Government.

Saul Bass

Bass, SaulNotes on the Popular Arts
The Bell System service marks, including the circled-bell logo, especially as redesigned by Saul Bass in 1969, and the words Bell System in text, were used before January 1, 1984, when the AT&T divestiture of its regional operating companies took effect.
Bass designed some of the most iconic corporate logos in North America, including the Bell System logo in 1969, as well as AT&T's globe logo in 1983 after the breakup of the Bell System.

Nortel

Nortel NetworksNorthern TelecomNorthern Electric
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.
Until an antitrust settlement in 1949, Northern Electric was owned principally by Bell Canada and the Western Electric Company of the Bell System, producing large volumes of telecommunication equipment based on licensed Western Electric designs.

Cincinnati Bell

Cincinnati Bell WirelessCincinnati Bell TelephoneCincinnati Bell, Inc.
Currently, the word mark Bell, the logo, and other related trademarks, are held by each of the remaining Bell companies, namely AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and Cincinnati Bell.
Cincinnati Bell was founded in 1873 as a telegraph company and for much of its history was a Bell System franchisee.

Pacific Bell

Pacific Telephone & TelegraphPacific TelephonePacific Telephone and Telegraph Company
Pacific Bell continued operating in California under that name (or the shortened "PacBell" nickname) until SBC purchased it.
The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, or "PacTel" for short, managed the Bell System's telephone operations in California.

Illinois Bell

Illinois Bell Telephone CompanyAT&T IllinoisIllinois Bell Telephone
Illinois Bell Telephone Company is the Bell Operating Company serving Illinois.

Bell Canada

BellBell Telephone Company of CanadaBCE
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.
Bell Canada operated as the Canadian subsidiary of the Bell System from 1880 to 1975.

Verizon New England

New England TelephoneNew England Telephone Companycompany of the same name
Verizon New England, Inc., which was formerly New England Telephone and Telegraph Company, more commonly known as New England Telephone, is a Bell Operating Company that serves most of Massachusetts and all of Rhode Island.

Indiana Bell

Indiana Bell Telephone Company
Indiana Bell Telephone Company, Incorporated, is the Bell Operating Company serving Indiana.

Northwestern Bell

Northwestern Bell Telephone Company
Examples include Verizon, which still used the Bell logo on its trucks and payphones until it updated its own logo in 2015, and Qwest, formerly US West, which licenses the Northwestern Bell and Mountain Bell names to Unical Enterprises, who makes telephones under the Northwestern Bell name.
A Bell-licensed exchange is believed to have opened in Deadwood, South Dakota between March and August 1878, just two years after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, and several months before President Rutherford B. Hayes could use his phone in a little wooden booth outside of his office in the White House.

Southern Bell

Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph CompanySouthern Bell Telephone CompanySBC
Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company was once the regional Bell Operating Company serving the states of Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina prior to the breakup of AT&T.

Iconectiv

BellcoreTelcordia TechnologiesTelcordia
Nippon Electric was considered a more distant affiliate of Western Electric than Northern Electric, where Nippon Electric via its own research and development adapted the designs of Western Electric's North American telecommunications equipment for use in Japan, which to this day gives much of Japan's telephone equipment and network a closer resemblance to North American ANSI and Telcordia standards than to European-originated ITU-T standards.
iconectiv was established on October 20, 1983, as Central Services Organization as part of the 1982 Modification of Final Judgment that broke up the Bell System.

Federal Communications Commission

FCCU.S. Federal Communications CommissionFederal Communications Commission (FCC)
After 1934, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assumed regulation of AT&T.
Effective January 1, 1984, the Bell System's many member-companies were variously merged into seven independent "Regional Holding Companies", also known as Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), or "Baby Bells".

Frontier West Virginia

Verizon West VirginiaThe Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of West VirginiaChesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of West Virginia
Frontier West Virginia, Inc. is one of the original Bell Operating Companies and provides local telephone service in the U.S. state of West Virginia.

Pacific Northwest Bell

Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Company
Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Company was an AT&T majority-owned Bell System company that provided local telecommunications services in Oregon, Washington, and northern Idaho.

US West

U S WESTWestAmerican West
Examples include Verizon, which still used the Bell logo on its trucks and payphones until it updated its own logo in 2015, and Qwest, formerly US West, which licenses the Northwestern Bell and Mountain Bell names to Unical Enterprises, who makes telephones under the Northwestern Bell name.
Until 1990, US West was a holding company with three Bell Operating Companies: Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph (or Mountain Bell, headquartered in Denver, Colorado); Northwestern Bell, then headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska; and Pacific Northwest Bell, then headquartered in Seattle, Washington.

Vertical integration

vertically integratedvertically-integratedvertically integrate
As a result of this vertical monopoly, the Bell System effectively owned most telephone service in the United States by 1940, from local and long-distance service to the telephones.
Telephone companies in most of the 20th century, especially the largest (the Bell System) were integrated, making their own telephones, telephone cables, telephone exchange equipment and other supplies.

Ohio Bell

Ohio Bell TelephoneAT&T OhioOhio Bell Telephone Company
The Ohio Bell Telephone Company, now doing business as AT&T Ohio, is the Bell Operating Company serving most of Ohio and parts of West Virginia.

Kingsbury Commitment

In 1913, the federal government challenged the Bell System's growing monopoly over the phone system under AT&T ownership in an anti-trust suit, leading to the Kingsbury Commitment.
These battles resulted a large amount of antitrust litigation and ultimately led to the 1982 breakup of the Bell System.

South Central Bell

South Central Bell Telephone Company
South Central Bell Telephone Company, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, was the name of the Bell System's operations in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.