Frederick Perry Fish

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Frederick Perry Fish (13 January 1855 – 6 November 1930) was an American lawyer and executive who served as president of American Telephone & Telegraph Corporation from 1901 to 1907.[1] He was the founder of the law firm now known as Fish & Richardson.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Taunton, Massachusetts, Fish attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He was admitted to the bar in 1878. He worked at the law firm of Thomas L. Livermore and Senator Bainbridge Wadleigh in Boston. During his lifetime, the law firm was successively named Wadleigh & Fish; Wadleigh, Fish & Wellman; Livermore & Fish; Livermore, Fish & Richardson; Fish, Richardson & Storrow; Fish, Richardson, Storrow & Herrick; Fish, Richardson & Herrick, Fish Richardson, Herrick & Neave, and finally Fish & Richardson. His specialty was patent law. He was involved in key patent litigation during development of the telephone, the air brake, the steam turbine, the automobile, the airplane and the radio, as well as other electric appliances.

During his tenure at AT&T, Fish oversaw completion of a unified network of telephone lines nationwide. He turned down the presidency of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and returned to law in 1907. That year, Fish first credited Thomas Edison with suggesting "hello" as a more efficient telephone greeting than "Are you there?" or "Are you ready to talk?" Alexander Graham Bell had proposed "ahoy."[2] He served as Vice-President of the Bar Association of the City of Boston from 1909 to 1920, and President of the Massachusetts State Bar Association for the year 1919-1920. He served on the Corporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Governing Board of Radcliffe College. He was also an Overseer of Harvard College, a trustee of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, and Chairman of the Massachusetts State Board of Education.

Fish died at his home in Brookline, Massachusetts.


  1. ^ Staff report (November 7, 1930). Frederick P. Fish, Noted Lawyer, Dies; Was President of American Telephone and Telegraph Co. for Many Years. An Overseer of Harvard. Also a Leading Member of Massachusetts "Tech's" Board and a Bank Director. New York Times
  2. ^ Grimes, William (March 5, 1992). Great 'Hello' Mystery Is Solved. New York Times