We've Come So Far ...

About a year ago or so I came up with the idea of converting the TELECOM Digest archives into the mailbox format. I shared this with PAT who posted them to the TELECOM Digest website. Funny thing is I never got around to reading them. Until now.

I participated in Georgia Tech's Cooperative Education (Co-op) Program. I started working for AT&T in September 1987. I was 14 going on 15 when January 1, 1984 hit, the day that saw the breakup of AT&T. I really didn't understand from a consumer standpoint what all the fuss was about. Three-and-a-half years later when I was an AT&T employee, I still didn't fully understand the magnitude of what had happened.

It's all quite amusing to me now. I continually heard things from fellow, long-time AT&T employees like, "Oh, they're going to reverse the decision, you just watch!". Or "The government had no authority to do this to us.". They really had the mentality that the breakup of Ma Bell was only temporary. The government would eventually come to its senses and order it back together. The "we're still a monopoly" mentality was systemic throughout the corporation, which is what I think lead to its demise (anyone else have any thoughts on this?).

I'm still in the 1981 archives. I cannot believe how pompous, protective, and bloated the phone company was then. Telling customers they couldn't have a business and a residential line in the same dwelling. Sarcastic operators and billing employees. Charging through the nose for a simple telephone. Calls to the next town over being a toll call. Metered local calling. Amazing. I really see why AT&T was broken up.

I worked with many AT&T 3B2 computers while at AT&T. I found the announcement that there's a rumor of a 3Bx computer coming out, but AT&T won't say to be amusing. A Bell Labs employee chimed in not really confirming or denying it, but noting the government wouldn't let AT&T sell computers to anyone anyway.

I've also noted that most (all?) of the contributors to the digest worked in the following areas: Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Chapel Hill, Chicago, New Jersey or Boston. I understand why. Still, it floors me the net was so limited.

The January 1982 announcement that AT&T would in fact be broken up consisted of two postings with no apparent responses to either. Could you imagine an annoucement of that magnitude today? Poor PAT would be pulling 20 hour shifts just to process the flurry of postings and replies. :-)

You can access the archives in many formats by visiting

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. Take some time to read them. It's been very educational for me. In 2007 I no longer get my dial tone from a "telephone company" and I don't give it a second thought if I'm calling down the street, across the county/country, or to Canada, as it's all part of my flat-rate package.

John Mayson Austin, Texas, USA

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Many of the Digest readers in those days were more 'engineering and technical type' people than today. And, in the 1981-85 files in the archives, I am not certain how complete our files are. I have included everything I could find there, but I strongly suspect there are a few messages missing for one reason or another. PAT]
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