Telecommunications

AT&T Settles; Agrees to Breakup

January 8, 1982

The US Department of Justice and AT&T finalize a settlement under which AT&T agrees to divest itself of twenty-two subdivisions, to take effect January 1, 1984.

First Day of Transatlantic Phone Service

January 7, 1927

The first commercial transatlantic phone service was made available to the public. It used radio signals rather than the undersea cable or satellite technology of today. 31 calls were made between New York and London that day.

Morse Demonstrates Telegraph

January 6, 1838

Samuel Morse’s telegraph system is demonstrated for the first time at the Speedwell Iron Works in Morristown, New Jersey. The telegraph revolutionized long-distance communications, reaching the height of popularity in the 1920’s and 1930’s. It was slowly replaced by the telephone, faxing, and e-mail, however, it wasn’t until January 2006 that Western Union, perhaps the most famous “telegram” company, sent its last telegraph.

Nexus is the One

January 5, 2010

The Nexus One phone goes on sale. While not the first Android phone, it was the first phone to be branded and marketed directly by Google. In fact, it was available for purchase directly from Google’s web store for about 7 months after launch.

Motorola StarTAC Introduced

motorola_startacJanuary 3, 1996

Motorola introduces the StarTAC, the first clamshell flip cell phone. The smallest and lightest cell phone available at the time, the StarTAC’s “wearability” made it one of the first cell phones to achieve mainstream popularity. About 60 million StarTAC phones were sold over the series’ lifetime, becoming the stereotype for what most people refer to as “flip phones,” even to this day.

The Breakup of Ma Bell

January 1, 1984

The original American Telephone & Telegraph Company is divested of its 22 Bell System companies as a result of the settlement of the 1974 United States Department of Justice antitrust suit against AT&T.

AT&T Takes Over Bell System

Bell_System_hires_1889_logoDecember 30, 1899

American Bell, at the time parent corporation of the AT&T company, reorganizes and transfers its assets into AT&T. American Bell was incorporated in Massachusetts and AT&T was incorporated in New York. Massachusetts corporate laws would have limited the growth of American Bell so by reorganizing, AT&T could bypass Massachusetts law by becoming the parent company of American Bell and the Bell System. Eventually AT&T would become a legalized monopoly in the United States.

The First Transpacific Telegraph Cable

1902-CPC-04December 14, 1902

The cable ship Silvertown begins laying the first Transpacific telegraph cable from San Francisco, destined for Honolulu, Hawaii. After laying 2,227 nautical miles of cable, the Silvertown will land in Honolulu on January 1, 1903. Public messages will begin transmitting on January 5.

Telephones Get a Push

A push-button TouchTone phone from 1963. Note the * and # keys are not included, as they were not introduced until 1968.

A push-button TouchTone phone from 1963. Note the missing * and # keys. They were not introduced until 1968.

November 18, 1963

Bell Telephone offers the first electronic push-button telephones to customers in Carnegie and Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) technology (Touch-Tone) was also introduced on the same day in order to accommodate the new push-button telephones.

First Underwater Telegraph Cable

JohnWBrett-i_sNovember 13, 1851

Laid by British telegraphic engineer John Watkins Brett and his brother Jacob Brett, the world’s first operational underwater telegraph cable opens for business. Connecting the English city of Dover to the French city of Calais, the cable was ran at the narrowest point of the English channel. With this link, communication between London and Paris was made possible.