"Bell Labs was a mystical institution. It was the envy of the technological world. Somehow or other it was unique in that it unfailingly produced a disproportionate amount of valuable technological product." -- George Indig, interview for "Transistorized!"
Bell Labs began as the research and development section of the American Telephone and Telegraph company, or AT&T. AT&T originally had exclusive use of Alexander Graham Bell's patents on the invention of the telephone, but those patents expired at the end of the 1800s. As other miniphone companies began to open, AT&T had to develop new technologies to prove it was still the best company. Out of this need sprang Bell Labs.
Over the last century, Bell has become one of the top research institutions in the US. Not only did scientists at Bell invent the transistor, but they also created the laser, the solar cell, communications satellites, and many other inventions. Bell built the first transistorized computer and, of course, has greatly improved phone service. The labs boast over 26,000 patents and eleven Nobel Prize winners.
Since AT&T was restructured several years ago, Bell Labs became the R&D arm of AT&T's offspring, Lucent Technologies.
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