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In 1844 Samuel Morse patented the modern telegraph by 1851 telegraph lines in the United States spanned over 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometres). Morse's most important technical contribution to this telegraph was the simple and highly efficient Morse Code, co-developed with Alfred Vail, Telephone service - Bell Telephone and AT&T: Bell Telephone Company was organized in Boston, Massachusetts on July 9, 1877 based on Alexander Graham Bell's invention. Theodore Vail, cousin of Alfred Vail became the general manager of the American Bell Telephone Company in 1878.
Ownership of American Bell was transferred to its own subsidiary, American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T Company)in 1899.
AT&T was also known as "Ma Bell" and affectionately called "Mother" by phone phreaks.
AT&T - the Umbrella Company Long Lines - Long Distance Services Western Electric - Manufacturing Bell Laboratories - Research and Development 22 Bell Operating Companies - Local Telephone service Also called Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) Illinois Bell Telephone Company Indiana Bell Telephone Company, Incorporated Michigan Bell Telephone Company New England Telephone and Telegraph Company New Jersey Bell Telephone Company New York Telephone Company Northwestern Bell Telephone Company Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Company South Central Bell Telephone Company Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company Southwestern Bell Telephone Company The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Companies (MD, DE, VA, WV) The Diamond State Telephone Company The Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company The Ohio Bell Telephone Company The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company Bell Telephone Company of Nevada (Owned by Pacific Bell) Wisconsin Telephone CompanyThere were several Independent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs) General Telephone and Electronics (GTE), United Telephone, Southern New England (Connecticut) and many smaller ones.
The Bell companies subsidized local service with Business Revenes. Everyone was happy. Businesses needed everyone to have a phone and a phone directory so people could find and contact them.
Then companies like MCI and Sprint found they offer lower rates to businesses in metropolitan areas by not having to support large networks for local service.
This led to divestiture in 1984. The AT&T divested the operating companies, which provided local telephone service and kept manufacturing of telephones and switches and long distance service.
The 22 Bell Operating Companies were consolidated into 7 Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCS) or "Baby Bells"
NYNEX, acquired by Bell Atlantic in 1996, now part of Verizon Communications Pacific Telesis, acquired by SBC in 1997, now part of AT&T Inc. Ameritech, acquired by SBC in 1999, now part of AT&T Inc. Bell Atlantic, merged with GTE in 2000 to form Verizon Communications Southwestern Bell Corporation, rebranded as SBC Communications in 1995, acquired AT&T Corporation in 2005 BellSouth, acquired by AT&T Inc. in 2006 US West, acquired by Qwest in 2000, which in turn was acquired by CenturyLink in 2011
AT&T retained Long Distance Service
At the same time the RBOCs wireless services were merging and spun off.
AT&T and Verizon survived.
1984 breakup of AT&T into 7 Baby Bells and AT&T
AT&T EvolutonIn 2005, 20 years after the justice department split the telephone business into local and long distance companies they have allowed them to come back together. SBC was allowed to purchase what was left of AT&T, the Long Distance business, and to change their name to AT&T.
Verizon another local service provider was allowed to purchase MCI a long distance carrier.
This allowed them to compete with the cable TV companies and provide Internet and TV service.
In 2006 manufacturing and research parts of the original AT&T, Lucent, merged with Alcatel SA of France.
Local telephone service was provided by on of the RBOCs (Regional Bell Operating Companies) depending on where you lived and you had to pick one of the interexchange carriers (IXCs) like AT&T, MCI, and Sprint to provide long distance calls.
Consolidation of Baby Bells
The independent local Exchange Carriers (ILEC's)still remained independent. Two of the larger ones GTE and Southern New England Telephone (SNET) were eventually bought by one of the larger companies. Others still remain. Consolidated Communications an independent company bought a lot of the smaller independent companies. e.g. Roseville Telephone and Elk Grove telephone.
AT&T and Verison wireless businesses are subsidiaries witch compete nation-wide with T-mobile, Sprint and other wireless companies.