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How the Bell System Missed the Internet 5

“Demonstrating the ACS system to the AT&T executives…and apparent success…” I have been discussing ACS, the Bell System version of the Internet. The BBN ARPANet was too small and couldn’t scale up into a national data network. So the Bell…

How the Bell System Missed the Internet 4

“The Bell System Advanced Communications System Fails…” So, development progressed on the AT&T ACS system. This was the system destined to become what the internet is today. It was to be a massive packet switching system able to serve tens…

How the Bell System Missed the Internet 3

“The Bell System ACS system Takes Shape…and Fails…” This series discusses the largest private R&D development project in history as of the 1980s. It was a system called Advanced Communications System, or ACS. It was destined to become what the…

How the Bell System Missed the Internet 2

“ARPANet and Scaleability” Today the ubiquitous Internet is taken for granted as being obvious and necessary. But in the 1970s things were different. There were a multitude of competing networks. Tymnet, Telenet, and Compuserve all offered nationwide networking. Later, Canadian…

How the Bell System Missed the Internet 1

Colin here. One of the more fascinating twists and turns in corporate history is how the Bell System missed developing the internet. What follows is the story of ACS in 8 parts (in 8 days). It could have owned the…

Patently Messed Up

Colin here. What is innovation? It’s a simple enough question, except that it is not. Most innovation is synthesis of other ideas. Rare is there something entirely new that is invented. (And even then the argument can be made it is…

A Brief History of AT&T – Part 3

Today’s AT&T isn’t much like the AT&T from pre-divestature. It doesn’t own Western Electric, it doesn’t have Bell Laboratories, and it isn’t even the same corporation. Today’s AT&T is a renamed Bell South, one of the divested Bell Operating Companies. Bell South simply purchased the AT&T name, along…

A Brief History of AT&T – Part 2

AT&T today exists through the strangest of history. What is known today as AT&T is really the corporate entity of Bell South, one of the operating companies that spun off from AT&T. And, that company is the merger of several of the…

A Brief History of AT&T – Part 1

Thirty years ago I worked for the Bell System. It was a company that I was proud of. We created the best telecommunications network in the world. Our official mission statement was “To provide the best possible service at the lowest possible…