- Hardcover: 369 pages
- Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (May 1976)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060105402
- ISBN-13: 978-0060105402
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,456,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Telephone: The First Hundred Years Hardcover – May, 1976
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Top Customer Reviews
It's not really a history of the telephone, it's a history of the old "Ma Bell" AT&T- except that, being written in 1975, it's lacking the final chapter. Unlike most "history of" business books, it's not primarily a boardroom drama and, although it has an overall-positive view of Ma Bell, it's willing to look at at least some of its faults. In reading this book, the old AT&T appears as a corporate colossus; who could have guessed that practically all of it would simply vanish over the next few decades?
Looking at Ma Bell from the present, its flaws seem far more apparent than they did in 1975. One flaw surely is that for all the vaunted prowess of Bell Labs, it stifled innovation within the telephone industry. If AT&T had had its way, users would have been forever forbidden to attach anything not provided by AT&T to their phone lines- modems, answering machines, everything would have to be rented from the phone company. In such an environment, would AT&T have even introduced cordless phones? For the fact is, the inside of a 1975 desk phone wasn't, except for the addition of a dial or pushbuttons, all that different from a phone from 1900 (same carbon microphone, etc.).
So Ma Bell's gone now, as obsolete as a vacuum-tube radio. And even within its limitations the book is not perfect- for example, it does not cover "phone phreaking" at all (although it surely should). But as a history book- specifically, about the life and times of Ma Bell as it existed throughout most of the 20th century- it's a pretty good source.
But if you want the final chapter- how opening the long-distance market destroyed post-divestiture AT&T's profitability, and how cellphones proved to be a totally disruptive technology, rendering MA Bell's old landline network increasingly obsolete- well, you'll just have to write it yourself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Exhaustive, but never boring story of the telephone. I was very pleased with the layout and flow of the book's contents. Very informative, I found it difficult to put down. Read morePublished on July 4, 2014 by Thomas J. Hoehler