AT&T - One Of The Oldest Communications Corporations

By 1892, AT&T had connected Chicago with New York, and had an extensive network linking New York with San Francisco by 1915. The first transatlantic cables were in place by 1956. Read more about this American corporation.

AT&T, standing for American Telephone and Telegraph, is one of the oldest telephone communications corporations still in existence. Based in San Antonio Texas, AT&T today is the largest provider of phone services in the United States, dominating not only local and long distance LAN lines but also the wireless market as well. Their stock is available on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol 'T'.

AT&T has its roots in the original company founded by Alexander Graham Bell and his financiers, Bell Telephone Company. In 1880, the Bell Telephone Company began an ambitious effort to lay long distance lines across the country in a network that was the first of its kind. In 885 this project was incorporated into its own company, the American Telephone and Telegraph company, or known simply as AT&T.1

For the majority of AT&T’s existence, it enjoyed a virtual monopoly of the long distance telephone service market. It also control over 20 Bell Operating companies, providing different regions of the country with local telephone service. In the 1920’s, along with RCA, AT&T owned patents on the triode vacuum tube and began research into radio and wireless communication. RCA eventually went on to form the National Broadcasting Company, or NBC, whose transmission connections were provided by AT&T.

Also in the 1920s, AT&T formed the Bell Telephone Laboratories, or the ‘Bell Labs’. Focusing on research and development, the Bell Labs are accredited with the discovery of radio astronomy, the transistor, the photovoltaic cell, the Unix operating system, and even the C programming language, although AT&T did not always take advantage of these discoveries.

AT&T’s monopoly held all the way up until the 1970’s on the basis that it was a ‘natural monopoly’, or in other words a monopoly due to the fact that they were the only company capable of providing the long distance phone service they offered on such a large scale.

However, upon the invention of affordable microwave communications equipment, long distance networks could be made without the expensive construction costs involved in AT&T’s original cable network.

Microwave Communications Incorporated, or MCI, was the first company to crack into AT&T’s long held monopoly, beginning what would eventually develop into the raging long distance service provider battle we see today.

Though they no long have a monopoly, they still clearly dominate telephone markets in the United States across the board. In 2005, they were purchased by SBC Communications, and as part of the merger SBC changed its name to the company it had acquired, AT&T.

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